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The GOP's Biden and Mayorkas debacles subvert impeachment at the worst time

By continuing to cry wolf when none is at the door, Republicans lower our guard for when impeachment may actually be needed in the (possibly very near) future.

House Republicans have spent months searching unsuccessfully for a smoking gun in the Joe Biden impeachment investigation. Instead of admitting failure, they are now pivoting to another target in their frenzy to impeach anyone, no matter how baselessly: Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

What really concerns us, though, is the way these impeachments will both weaponize a key constitutional remedy and undermine its sober original intent.

Both the Biden and Mayorkas impeachments are clearly not backed up by evidence. And both borrow from a House Freedom Caucus playbook of unmerited impeachment proceedings that dates to the failed 2016 impeachment of then-IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. What really concerns us, though, is the way these impeachments will both weaponize a key constitutional remedy and undermine its sober original intent. America needs impeachment to deal with the threat of future rogue presidents or other wayward government officials. Ahead of a potential Trump-Biden rematch, this is the worst possible time to turn the threat of impeachment into a partisan joke.

It is bad enough that House Republicans appear to be torpedoing a proposed compromise on border security legislation. But they are now going further to placate the leader of their party. Donald Trump was impeached, and so they are bound and determined to impeach someone, anyone, in retaliation — no matter the lack of any constitutional basis.

Biden was their initial target. On his first full day in office in 2021, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., introduced articles of impeachment based on nothing. And Republicans have been unsuccessfully trying to find any shred of “evidence” ever since. The GOP has contemplated impeaching the president over the White House’s border policy (foreshadowing its focus on Mayorkas) and Biden’s family business dealings.

Last September, then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., announced that he was directing the House to formally look into allegedly improper business dealings by Biden. But while investigators have amassed dozens of hours of testimony and tens of thousands of pages of subpoenaed bank records, they have yet to uncover any evidence of wrongdoing, much less something rising to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”?

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking, and so the focus has shifted (for the time being). The problem is there is also no evidence against Mayorkas of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” required by the Constitution for impeachment. The Constitution’s impeachment standard was not meant to apply to policy differences such as those over immigration and border enforcement. The framers never intended for impeachment to be used as a cudgel to be wielded against political enemies. Mayorkas’ conduct does not provide any basis for impeachment.

Sure, Republicans accused Democrats of using impeachment for political purposes when it came to Trump. But both of his impeachments were supported by an overwhelming cache of evidence — some of it broadcast live on television during the Jan. 6, 2021, mob attack on the Capitol.?

To truly see the origins of the House Freedom Caucus’ mania for abusive impeachment, we must look back a few years to 2016.

To truly see the origins of the House Freedom Caucus’ mania for abusive impeachment, we must look to 2016, when Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and his allies in the House attempted to impeach Koskinen without cause. Jordan himself presented the impeachment resolution on the House floor for a requested vote.??

In the resolution, Koskinen was accused of lying to Congress about how and why the IRS delayed the tax-exempt application process of a plethora of organizations, hundreds of which were conservative. Koskinen was not the head of the IRS at the time of these alleged delays, however, and the Justice Department uncovered “poor judgment” but no criminal wrongdoing. It was just Jordan’s and the Freedom Caucus’ attempt to look tough on the IRS in front of their tea party supporters.

Fortunately, it was a saner time, and plenty of Democrats and Republicans recognized the move for what it was — a brazen attempt to lash out politically, rather than an earnest response to wrongdoing. The House voted an overwhelming 342-72 to send the impeachment resolution back to the Judiciary Committee, avoiding a floor vote and, essentially, killing the effort.

But Jordan’s failed impeachment of Koskinen gave him and his House Freedom Caucus colleagues a taste for pursuing baseless impeachments for political purposes. Now they are returning to the same playbook, trying to make an example of Mayorkas to show just how tough on illegal immigration they can be. As with their anti-IRS pandering, Jordan and his peers cannot resist using impeachment to exploit the hot-button issues of migration and the border.

But America is in a different place today than it was even eight years ago. As Republicans continue to use impeachment as a political weapon, they undermine its constitutional importance and its essential role as a means of checks and balances. By continuing to cry wolf when none is at the door, they lower our guard for when impeachment may actually be needed in the future. Trump’s conduct was so egregious during his first administration that he was impeached two separate times. Who knows what could happen if he returns to the Oval Office in 2025, angry and hellbent on vengeance?

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