Thanks to a handful of GOP senators, the second major stain on Donald Trump’s failed presidency turned out to be the most bipartisan impeachment in U.S. history. However, Trump’s acquittal in his second impeachment trial in as many years came as no surprise. As with basically everything else, the way the Republican Party approaches impeachment is depraved and hypocritical.
Speaking a day after the House voted to impeach Trump for the first time in 2019, then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made a big stink about how House Democrats were supposedly desperate to get Trump impeached from the moment he took office. McConnell warned that the Democrats were “deeply damaging the institutions of American government,” letting their “partisan rage at this particular President create a toxic new precedent that will echo into the future.”
McConnell then proceeded to outline the supposedly “historic degree to which House Democrats have failed to do their duty.” He fingered a Washington Post article, “The campaign to impeach President Trump has begun,” that was published on Inauguration Day 2017, as apparent evidence of House Democrats’ early, concerted action to get Trump impeached and removed from office.
The thing is, that article was nothing like what McConnell suggested. The first sentence establishes that the impeachment campaign’s organizers were two nonprofit organizations—Free Speech for People and RootsAction—not Democratic lawmakers. Their campaign was about drawing attention to the fact that Trump was starting his presidency after not having divested himself of his luxury hotel and golf resort business.
The first time House Democrats introduced any article of impeachment was six months into Trump’s term. On July 12, 2017, Reps. Brad Sherman and Al Green introduced a single article of impeachment (H.Res. 438) based on Trump’s failure to faithfully execute his constitutional oath while in office. That article cited a “pattern of behavior,” including the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, aimed at obstructing the federal investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
It took over two years before House leadership supported pursuing impeachment against Trump. Even in March 2019, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed back against the growing calls for impeachment, explaining that it “divides the country” and that Trump’s “just not worth it.” A couple of months later, she pointed out that Trump was “becoming self-impeachable,” and then on December 18, Trump was handed his first of what would become two damning, bipartisan impeachments.
By contrast, the Republicans are the ones who are itching to impeach President Biden from day one. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who clings to her QAnon fanaticism even as she loses all her committee assignments, introduced a laughably fallacious article of impeachment (H.Res. 57) against Biden no later than his first full day in office. This week, Rep. Devin Nunes fed the lunacy, telling Fox News that if the Republicans can take back the House in 2022, “I could see pressure would become great for us to actually have to impeach Biden.” Try again, Mitch.