As an unsettling number of Republicans rushed to suggest the FBI might’ve “planted” incriminating evidence at Mar-a-Lago, Sen. Rand Paul raised a few eyebrows yesterday by broaching the same subject. The Kentucky Republican didn’t come right out and make an explicit accusation, but the senator argued on the air that it was at least possible.
“How do we know?” Paul asked, rhetorically. He added, “How do we know [hypothetical incriminating evidence] was in the box before it left the residence?”
It was deeply odd rhetoric, even from a GOP lawmaker with a record of believing weird conspiracy theories, but that’s not all he said. In the same Fox News interview, the Kentuckian also broached the subject of impeaching Attorney General Merrick Garland.
“I’ve never been a fan of overusing impeachment, but I think there has to be an investigation, and if it warrants it, there’s going to have to be a look at whether or not the attorney general has misused his office for political purposes. Have they gone after a political opponent? I mean, this is beyond the pale.”
At least so far, Paul hasn’t presented any evidence of the attorney general misusing his office for political purposes or going after a political opponent, apparently because no such evidence exists. What’s more, if the Justice Department didn’t have legitimate evidence of wrongdoing, it almost certainly couldn’t have received a court-ordered search warrant.
But Kentucky’s junior senator, speaking to a national television audience, raised the specter of impeaching Garland anyway.
He’s not alone. A day earlier, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley did the same thing. “At a minimum, Garland must resign or be impeached,” the Missouri senator wrote on Twitter, failing to point to any evidence of wrongdoing on Garland’s part.
Complicating matters, this isn’t altogether new. Last month, Rep. Jim Jordan — a Republican who would likely chair the House Judiciary Committee in the event of a GOP majority — also talked up the idea of impeaching the attorney general.
Remember, there’s still no actual evidence of wrongdoing against the attorney general. Senators like Hawley and Paul assume Garland did something wrong because the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, in accordance with the law and judicial practices.
As regular readers know, all of this comes against a backdrop of congressional Republicans raising the prospect of trying to impeach President Joe Biden in the next Congress — Sen. Ted Cruz went so far as to suggest that such a move is actually likely if his party controls the House next year — while a variety of GOP lawmakers also eye the possible impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
This is not to be confused with the already pending resolution, introduced by Republican Rep. Ralph Norman, to impeach Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (The resolution has 14 co-sponsors.) There’s also, of course, Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert’s resolution to impeach Vice President Kamala Harris.
But when thinking about what a GOP majority might do with power handed to them by voters, it’s worth keeping all of this in mind.