Republicans voted Thursday to kickstart the formalities that could lead to Joe Biden’s impeachment, as far-right lawmakers sought to seize the party’s agenda and escalate a bitter standoff with the US president.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted along party lines to refer a resolution that accuses the 80-year-old Democrat of “abuse of power” and “dereliction of duty” to the judiciary and homeland security committees.
Republicans accuse Biden of failing to control immigration, leading to the country’s “complete and total invasion” and “surrender of operational control” of the US-Mexico border to “foreign, criminal cartels.”
Democrats say the Republicans are simply deflecting attention from the mushrooming legal woes of former president Donald Trump, who faces more than 70 felony counts of financial fraud, mishandling government secrets and obstructing law enforcement.
Biden’s son Hunter has agreed to admit federal tax evasion charges after a probe into his financial affairs, but critics have provided no evidence of any wrongdoing ever by the president himself.
“You can’t make this stuff up. Their extremism continues to be on full display,” House Democratic minority leader Hakeem Jeffries told reporters in Congress.
“And they are doing nothing, nothing, nothing to enhance the health, the safety or the economic wellbeing of the American people.”
Impeachment by the House — the political equivalent of a criminal indictment — would spark a “trial” by the Senate’s 100 members, who can vote to remove a president with a two-thirds majority vote.
Trump, who was impeached twice, is among three presidents to face the rebuke, although he was shielded from conviction by Republican allies in the Senate on both occasions.
While the Democrats united against Trump, House Republicans have been hamstrung by infighting this time around, with the leadership pushing back against a frivolous impeachment process that would be stymied in the Democratic-led Senate in any case.
– Going ‘rogue’ –
Lauren Boebert, the far-right firebrand who drafted the Biden resolution, initially pushed for a straight vote on impeachment without a committee procedure that would likely have led to embarrassing infighting on the House floor.
Oversight and Accountability Committee chairman James Comer is already leading a probe into unsubstantiated claims that Biden took bribes while he was a vice president and doesn’t expect to release a report for several months.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy — who has struggled to lead his raucous grouping, with its narrow, four-vote majority — has argued that the rank-and-file need to let Comer finish his work and allow any action to go through the normal committee process.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, Boebert’s former ally on the far right, has been pushing for Biden’s impeachment separately and told reporters Wednesday her colleagues needed to “get to the same place that our base is, where our Republican voters are.”
Allies of McCarthy accused right-wing lawmakers of going “rogue,” however, while The Daily Beast reported that Greene called Boebert a “little bitch” on the House floor as they bickered over whose idea the impeachment was.
The Republicans have filed 12 impeachment resolutions this year — targeting government officials from Biden and his vice president, Kamala Harris to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The House voted 213-209 on Wednesday to censure California’s Adam Schiff for helping expose the 2016 Trump campaign’s extensive ties to Russia, prompting chants of “shame” from Democrats.
“To my Republican colleagues who introduced this resolution, I thank you. You honour me with your enmity,” Schiff said before the vote.
“You flatter me with this falsehood. You, who are the authors of a big lie about the last election, must condemn the truth tellers. And I stand proudly before you.”