After months of dithering about it, on Tuesday Kevin McCarthy announced he was going forward with an impeachment inquiry into allegations that somewhere, at some unspecified time Joe Biden took some illegal Burisma money from his son Hunter. The GOP House majority has spent months on hearings and witnesses and FOX appearances to try to inflame the American public against Biden.
It’s not working so it’d make much more sense for McCarthy to drop it and started on important issues like funding the government and keeping it open. Instead, McCarthy doubled down and is now going to start making all of this more visible to the American public because if he doesn’t do this, he risks losing his speaker’s gavel:
Gaetz on Tuesday denounced McCarthy for what the Florida lawmaker called insufficient accountability for President Joe Biden’s family and the lack of subpoenas filed against Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.
Threats from individual lawmakers to remove a House speaker hold more weight now. McCarthy agreed earlier this year to House Freedom Caucus demands to allow a single member to call for a vote, known as a motion to vacate, to oust the leader of the lower chamber. The vote needs a simple majority in the House to pass.
“The path forward for the House of Representatives is to either bring you into immediate, total compliance or remove you pursuant to a motion to vacate the chair,” Gaetz said.
So here we are and I like it. I like anything that makes Kevin McCarthy miserable at work. But wait—it gets worse for McCarthy.
McCarthy has said that the majority needs the powers of an official impeachment inquiry in order to obtain bank statements and other evidence that they can’t access right now. This is a lie, btw, because other House Republicans have admitted they already have those documents. The other reason is, obviously, because they don’t exist. Creating an official impeachment inquiry will not create the damning documents they desire. You can’t divide by zero.
There’s another wrinkle in all of this, and it’s delicious. See, there is a binding opinion on the DOJ books, adopted while TFG was in office, which states the DOJ does not have to cooperate with any impeachment inquires that have not been voted on by the House:
In January 2020, the Donald Trump-led Justice Department formally declared that impeachment inquiries by the House are invalid unless the chamber takes formal votes to authorize them.
That opinion — issued by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel — came in response to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to launch an impeachment inquiry into Trump without initially holding a vote for it. Not only is it still on the books, it is binding on the current administration as iresponds to Tuesday’s announcement by Speaker Kevin McCarthy to authorize an impeachment inquiry into Biden, again without a vote.
“[W]e conclude that the House must expressly authorize a committee to conduct an impeachment investigation and to use compulsory process in that investigation before the committee may compel the production of documents or testimony,” wrote Steven Engel, then the head of DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel, backing the Trump administration’s rejection of subpoenas from the Democratic congressional investigators.
So McCarthy’s plan isn’t going to placate the ultra-extremists in his party because it’s not going to get them the documents they thin are being withheld from them. Also it’s not going to work because you can’t divide by zero.
Of course McCarthy is desperate not to have a formal vote because he doesn’t have the votes to formally open an impeachment inquiry and that will show his weakness. There are 18 House Republicans who won districts Biden won, and a formal vote sinks their reelections. You hate to see it.
And speaking of razor thin margins, since McCarthy may face a new Speaker election, George Santos’ case is likely moving to a plea deal, and Marcy Wheeler at Empytwheel noted:
By all appearances, Santos is further from a plea than Miele is, probably for good reason. Miele has testimony against Santos to offer as leverage; Santos has his seat in the House (though depending on the precise nature of his relationship with Andrew Intrater and Viktor Vekselberg, Santos might be able to trade testimony as well).
But this is a public integrity case, and as such, a resignation is one of the things that prosecutors are permitted to use in negotiating a plea deal.
And EDNY is discussing very short timelines, with Miele’s next hearing currently scheduled for October 6, and Santos’ next status hearing scheduled for October 27.
Which is to say that Big Kev may lose the deciding vote that made him Speaker even before discussions of impeachment and shutdowns are resolved.
I was puzzled about why McCarthy was doing all of this—yes, he loves power and he’s desperate to remain Speaker. And since he bragged about how the whole purpose of the Benghazi hearing was to weaken Hillary Clinton’s campaign right after it concluded, I know he’s not particularly attuned to the finer points of strategy. And then I read this:
Tapper: Sources tell CNN that Trump and Elise Stefanik spoke by phone today about the House Republican impeachment inquiry strategy.and Marjorie Taylor Greene had dinner with Trump and they also discussed the inquiry strategy pic.twitter.com/WUERoQyndv
— Acyn (@Acyn) September 12, 2023
Now it all makes sense. TFG has zero ability to strategize, and no self-control. He’s another one trying to divide by zero.
Billy Preston has it from here: