Speaker Mike Johnson presiding in the House chamber
Mike Johnson presides over the House chamber after his election as Speaker. He provided votes to keep the federal government open, but is also doing Trump's bidding by formalizing a sham impeachment inquiry (U.S. House photo)

With a heavy dose of blus­ter, and no evi­dence despite months of inves­ti­ga­tion, House Repub­li­cans have launched a for­mal impeach­ment inquiry against Pres­i­dent Joe Biden. The launch came on a 221–212 par­ty-line vote after self-styled rea­son­able Repub­li­cans, rep­re­sent­ing dis­tricts car­ried by Biden and Har­ris in 2020, were press ganged to go along.

Repub­li­cans lead­ers will face a new chal­lenge, like­ly late in Jan­u­ary, when time comes — what­ev­er the evi­dence — to draw up arti­cles of impeach­ment. Speak­er Mike John­son has only a three-seat major­i­ty in “the peo­ples’ house”, like­ly to shrink fur­ther with the res­ig­na­tion of deposed ex-Speak­er Kevin McCarthy.

The Wednes­day vote took place against a back­drop of divi­sion, inter­nal intrigue. , and fail­ure by the House to address issues of the day.

The inquiry was pressed by Don­ald Trump’s clos­est allies in Con­gress, House Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee Chair­man Jim Jor­dan, R‑Ohio, and Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mike Com­er, R‑Kentucky, who chairs the House Over­sight Committee.

They’ve spent months exam­in­ing the trou­bled life of Hunter Biden, a recov­er­ing addict. As Rep. Jamie Raskin, Oversight’s rank­ing Demo­c­rat, not­ed: “A moun­tain of evi­dence and del­uge of inde­pen­dent report­ing — includ­ing from numer­ous con­ser­v­a­tive out­lets — has dis­cred­it­ed every sin­gle alle­ga­tion lev­eled by Repub­li­cans against Pres­i­dent Biden in their painstak­ing and fruit­less inquiry.”

The inquiry pos­es dan­gers — for Republicans.

The Bill Clin­ton impeach­ment saga actu­al­ly pro­duced gains for Democ­rats in the 1998 midterm elec­tions. House Speak­er Newt Gin­grich, nowa­days a font of par­ti­san vit­ri­ol on Fox News, was deposed by his own caucus.

Joe Biden was for years the “poor­est” U.S. Sen­a­tor in annu­al dis­clo­sure reports. He has been acclaimed as a par­ent, sud­den­ly wid­owed with two young boys soon after being elect­ed to the Sen­ate, deal­ing late in life with death of his son Beau and Hunter’s strug­gle with addiction.

Jim Jor­dan told the House Wednes­day that for­mal impeach­ment inquiry will allow enforce­ment of a sub­poe­na for Hunter to appear at a closed door hear­ing. In short, Repub­li­cans can cher­ry-pick from tes­ti­mo­ny giv­en only to them and reveal it in the closed, poi­so­nous atmos­phere of right wing media.

Hunter Biden showed up at the Unit­ed States Capi­tol on Wednes­day, offer­ing to tes­ti­fy in pub­lic before the Amer­i­can people.

Of Jor­dan, Com­er & Co., he said: “They ridiculed my strug­gle with addic­tion, they belit­tled my recov­ery; and they have tried to dehu­man­ize me — all to embar­rass my father who has devot­ed his entire pub­lic life to service.”

Sev­en­ty years have passed, but the ques­tion put by U.S. Army coun­sel Joseph Welch to red-baiter Sen­a­tor Joe McCarthy still res­onates: “Have you no sense of decen­cy?” It should be asked of Jim Jordan.

As Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Adam Schiff, D‑California, has said of the Trump impeach­ments, the evi­dence was out there for all to see. The 45th pres­i­dent, by with­hold­ing arms deliv­er­ies, tried to black­mail Ukraine into launch­ing a sham Biden investigation.

A mob of insur­rec­tion­ists stormed the Capi­tol on Jan­u­ary 6th, 2021, with some chant­i­ng “Hang Pence.” Want evi­dence? There it is.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jim McGov­ern, D‑Massachusetts, the rank­ing Demo­c­rat on the House Rules Com­mit­tee, kicked off floor debate Wednes­day, say­ing: “We are here for one rea­son and one rea­son alone: Don­ald Trump demand­ed that Repub­li­cans impeach and they are going to impeach.”

Trump wants the House inquiry. It will enable him to seduce mass media with a “moral equiv­a­lence” argu­ment. The lack of evi­dence will allow right-wing com­men­ta­tors to tell their audi­ence that the “deep state” is sup­press­ing the hid­den truth. Trump can con­tin­ue to call an hon­est man “crooked Joe.”

Dis­trac­tion is also in play. The coun­try has sta­bi­lized its post-pan­dem­ic recov­ery and is doing pret­ty well. Infla­tion is down from 9.1 per­cent in mid-2022 to 3.1 per­cent. The econ­o­my sup­plied 199,000 new jobs last month.

It’s sign of a “soft land­ing” in which infla­tion is tamed with no reces­sion. The Fed­er­al Reserve Board talks of cut­ting the prime inter­est rate next year.

Mon­ey from achieve­ments of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gress is work­ing its way into the nation’s econ­o­my, late­ly in dis­tricts of two Wash­ing­ton mem­bers of Con­gress who vot­ed for the impeach­ment inquiry. Pull­man, Wash­ing­ton, is get­ting a major air­port expan­sion, no thanks to Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers.

Two noto­ri­ous col­li­sion gen­er­at­ing arte­ri­als in Rich­land — George Wash­ing­ton Way and Jad­win Way, which fun­nel Han­ford-bound traf­fic — are get­ting major upgrades. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dan New­house is busy pan­der­ing to the right to recov­er stand­ing after he stood for Trump’s sec­ond impeachment.

Well, such was the last Con­gress. Of the cur­rent House Repub­li­cans, Joe Biden was blunt on Wednes­day: “Instead of doing any­thing to help make Amer­i­cans’ lives bet­ter, they are focused on trash­ing me with lies.”

Inquir­ing minds will watch if the inquiry pro­duces any evi­dence, and whether the so-called rea­son­able Repub­li­cans show any back­bone. In the words of Adam Schiff: “They’re always there for you when you don’t need them.”

About the author

Joel Connelly is a Northwest Progressive Institute contributor who has reported on multiple presidential campaigns and from many national political conventions. During his career at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, he interviewed Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and George H.W. Bush. He has covered Canada from Trudeau to Trudeau, written about the fiscal meltdown of the nuclear energy obsessed WPPSS consortium (pronounced "Whoops") and public lands battles dating back to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

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