Last week, Republicans in the House were desperately seeking a reason to impeach President Joe Biden. That lead to Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Bobert exchanging insults on the House floor, competing bills that included claims that Biden was responsible for an international child trafficking ring, and Republican leadership even more desperately trying to find a way to avoid defending, again, the painful foolishness and delusional nonsense spewed by the member of its most powerful caucus.
Bobert and Greene’s struggle to one-up each other on the outlandishness of their call for a Biden impeachment came just a week after Rep. Bob Goode called for an impeachment of FBI Director Christopher Wray, which came a week after Republicans tried, and failed, to hold Wray in contempt of Congress, and a full month after Greene’s earlier attempt to impeach Wray, who was appointed by Donald Trump, for turning the FBI into “a Federal police force to intimidate, harass, and entrap American citizens that are deemed enemies of the Biden regime.” All of this came wrapped around the House decision to censure Rep. Adam Schiff (and boost his Senate campaign) because … reasons. Not good reasons. Just reasons.
Barely Speaker Kevin McCarthy now seems to have picked a target to satisfy his members’ impeachment bloodlust, if he could only find a crime.
As The Hill reports, McCarthy has proposed that the Republican demand for a human sacrifice might find its ceremonial victim in Attorney General Merrick Garland, but impeachment has that pesky requirement for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” meaning McCarthy needs more than a name, he needs a justification before he can start whipping up the vote.
So what does he have?
McCarthy wants to impeach Garland because a “whistleblower,” apparently from within the IRS, claims to have knowledge of a private WhatsApp message in which Hunter Biden tried to extract money from a Chinese businessman. That whistleblower also accused the Department of Justice of giving Hunter Biden “preferential treatment” in an examination of his taxes.
“If the whistleblowers’ allegations are true, this will be a significant part of a larger impeachment inquiry into Merrick Garland’s weaponization of DOJ,” said McCarthy.
Unfortunately, for all the times that Republicans sling it around, there is no such crime as “weaponization of the DOJ” or the FBI or of any other department. It’s certainly true that these departments can be and have been aimed at individuals—see Martin Luther King Jr. and just about anyone who ever offended J. Edgar Hoover or Richard Nixon—but impeachment requires a crime, not a buzzword.
They need to find evidence that Garland has done something like intervene to repress evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Hunter Biden. That could be hard considering U.S. Attorney David Weiss just came off a five-year investigation into Hunter Biden that resulted in two minor charges of late payment of taxes and a charge of owning a gun while using drugs.
Weiss was appointed to this task by then-Attorney General William Barr, and the first two years of the investigation were carried out under Donald Trump. If there is anything unusual in the charges, it’s that Biden is being charged at all, because these are very rarely applied charges.
McCarthy admits that there are “clear disparities” between what Weiss found and the unsubstantiated reports Republicans are waving around as part of their fundraising campaigns. He’s demanding that Weiss come back to the House and explain the issues. Garland has said he’d be happy for Weiss to make such an appearance and talk about any issues with the IRS.
While he’s at it, maybe Weiss can explain how the reported attempt to extort a Chinese billionaire happened in 2017 while President Joe Biden was no longer vice president, no longer in the Senate, and not running for anything. As Garland explained on Friday, Weiss had full authority to pursue any evidence he found, including "more authority than a special counsel would have had." He also noted that the IRS whistleblower had claimed Weiss was prohibited from looking at evidence outside Delaware, which was untrue.
While McCarthy has Weiss at the House, he might also get in a few questions about why the last “key informant” that Republicans claimed to have, this one also throwing around unsubstantiated claims about Hunter Biden, turns out to be dead. And the guy who was at the center of that supposed deal turns out to have died over three years before Hunter Biden became involved.
Of course, the requirement for McCarthy to produce a crime on which to base impeachment is only what’s in the Constitution and the law. No big deal for this crew. Republicans can write up an impeachment because they don’t like the pattern on Garland’s tie and likely find a majority to pass it.
Donald Trump was impeached, twice, on clear crimes. First he was impeached for his attempt to extort Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy into providing false evidence against then-candidate Joe Biden. That effort not only caused delays in military assistance to Ukraine, it sent a clear signal that the United States wasn’t interested in stopping corruption. It was interested in causing corruption.
Trump’s second impeachment came from his involvement in the events of Jan. 6. Trump not only provided consistently false statements about the 2020 election, he incited violence and delayed necessary assistance to protect members of Congress and Capitol Police.
Republicans want to impeach someone, anyone, in order to gain a measure of revenge concerning Trump. That includes McCarthy voicing his support for expunging Trump’s twin impeachments. Everything they are doing is about showing their support for Trump and showing Trump supporters how willing they are to smite anyone who opposes him.
But this chart from last week shows their basic problem.
It’s not that Republicans aren’t getting plenty of opportunities to investigate their opponents. It's that Republicans keep doing all the crime. Whether it’s a special counsel or a U.S. attorney, years of investigations into Joe Biden and Hunter Biden have found no grand conspiracy or serious crime. But just a few months’ worth of investigating Trump turned up felonies literally in the dozens.
For that, Republicans want to prosecute the investigators. Maybe their “tough on crime” theme would work better if it were actually aimed at the criminals. Like Trump.