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    Friday, September 22, 2023

    GOP impeachment inquiry a sham

    There’d be some considerable head-scratching if prosecutors scheduled an arraignment with a blank charging document and explained that they were still figuring out the charges and trying to find evidence. In fact, any self-respecting judge would laugh them out of court. There’s a reason that episodes of “ Law & Order ” begin with the investigation and end with the prosecution and not vice versa; deciding that someone must be targeted and then reverse-engineering an investigation to justify it is the province of authoritarian governments and kangaroo courts, and while the U.S. justice system is far from perfect, we commit to the principle of innocent until proven guilty.

    Not so for House Republicans, who have made the idea of a trial and removal from the nation’s highest office an electoral strategy with no concern for its corrosive long-term impact on this country’s institutions. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy — a hapless leader kowtowing to his party’s most extreme fringes in exchange for a toothless speakership — says that an impeachment inquiry of President Biden is a “natural next step.” A next step to what, exactly, and on what basis, seem like minor questions to the speaker and his caucus.

    Of course, the Constitution gives Congress wide latitude to determine what constitutes an impeachable offense, and this is of course an inquiry and not an impeachment proceeding itself. Yet politically motivated investigations are a potent form of harassment in and of themselves, and a good chunk of House Republicans seem ready to vote for the impeachment regardless of what if anything at all comes out of this inquiry. In fact, members have already filed six impeachment resolutions against the president, which would have been a scandal at any period in political history.

    To preempt what will be the argument that this is just a tit-for-tat after the Democrats impeached Trump twice, let’s state the obvious: withholding allocated foreign aid hostage until a foreign president provides you with dirt on your political opponent and then attempting to end American democracy once you lose your election — the two well-documented offenses for which Donald Trump was impeached — are not remotely equivalent to having a son do some shady business deals of which there’s no evidence you had any knowledge or involvement. The Hunter Biden stuff is simply the easiest pretext onto which to latch these impeachment.

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