“Table pour 218, s’il vous plait?”
Welcome to the Impeachment Bistro.
This is where impeachment is on the menu.
Better hope you’re not famished when you walk in.
Perhaps boissons until the meal is ready?
It’s a long tease for Republicans. The GOP has talked impeachment for months to sate the appetite of its conservative, often pro-Trump, but vehemently anti-Biden base.
President Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, FBI Director Christopher Wray and even Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin have been on the bill of fare for impeachment.
But obviously, most Republicans interested in impeachment are angling for the President. And they’re simultaneously trying to contain angry conservatives demanding impeachment back home.
“If you hang on just a little bit longer, I think you’ll see it really quickly,” implored Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., on Fox Business about impeachment. “So be patient for just a little bit longer.”
It’s hard for Republicans to keep the expectations in check as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., began talking about impeachment in earnest earlier this summer. He’s done so for nearly two months.
“I would move to an impeachment inquiry if I found that the attorney general has not only lied to the Congress, the Senate, but to America,” said McCarthy in July about Garland and the Hunter Biden case.
At the time, McCarthy was trying to quash an effort by Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., to force the House to vote on the spot on impeaching President Biden. Boebert’s effort came without any formal investigation, review, depositions, hearings or official preparation of the resolution. Boebert just deposited the measure on the floor. McCarthy moved to kill it.
To McCarthy, Boebert’s plan was impeachment tartare. Uncooked and politically unfit to ingest.
The Speaker argued that if the House were to pursue impeachment, it must be fully prepared and appropriately garnished. For McCarthy, impeachment of the president is too serious to just throw flippantly throw it on the Congressional grill and expect lawmakers to consider it a bona fide meal.
But McCarthy’s remarks about Garland were just an impeachment apéritif.
A few days later, the California Republican pivoted from the attorney general and to the president of the United States.
“This is rising to the level of an impeachment inquiry,” McCarthy said about Biden on Fox in July.
McCarthy followed up that political amuse bouche with this offering about Mr. Biden and his son’s business dealings.
“When more of this continues to unravel, it rises to the level of an impeachment inquiry where you would have the Congress have the power to get to all these answers,” said McCarthy.
Then Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., introduced four formal articles of impeachment for the President. But unlike Boebert, Steube didn’t just plop his articles on the floor.
McCarthy hasn’t gotten to the impeachment le plat principal yet. But he’s certainly well into the impeachment hors-d’oeuvres.
“If you look at all the information we have been able to gather so far, it is a natural step forward that you would have to go to an impeachment inquiry,” said McCarthy last week on Fox.
After this much palette preparation, some Republicans are salivating. It’s hard to see how McCarthy doesn’t push ahead with impeachment of the President. The anticipation of the gourmet meal is too great on the right. In fact, if McCarthy doesn’t serve up the impeachment version of pheasant under glass, his own goose may be cooked.
The right isn’t going to go for any petit-dejeuner or a croque monsieur at this stage.
If you’ve ever been to a restaurant where the waiter keeps coming over, pouring more wine and telling you please be patient, the meal is coming, you usually know something is up in the kitchen.
The same is true on Capitol Hill.
This meal just isn’t ready yet. That is, unless you’ll settle for some crudites. And if you follow politics closely, you know that hasn’t worked out well recently.
It’s hard to see exactly what impeachment looks like, since McCarthy has signaled that he’d like to begin some sort of formal inquiry later this month.
Launching a formal impeachment investigation requires the House to vote on an impeachment resolution. In fact, House GOPers railed against Democrats who were in the majority in 2019 for not voting to begin an official impeachment inquiry until late October of that year. Some Republicans have suggested that they could do an impeachment inquiry – without taking a vote on a formal investigation. This will be about the math. Republicans hold a narrow four-seat majority. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., is now likely out for a while, suffering from cancer. The worst-case scenario for McCarthy would be to put some form of a measure regarding impeachment on the floor and watch it fail.
There are plenty of House Republicans who are skeptical about the House even flirting with impeachment. They don’t think it will be popular with their voters – especially the 18 House GOPers who represent district President Biden won in 2020. They’re concerned about “normalizing” impeachment – almost flipping the U.S. into a parliamentary system where the legislature holds a vote of “no confidence” for a leader.
Some Republicans would prefer to talk about bread-and-butter issues. And they’re less than convinced that House investigators have revealed any smoking gun that shows that the President benefitted from his son’s overseas business dealings. Some of these same Republicans also know that no matter what the House does, the Democratically controlled Senate will euthanize the impeachment articles rather quickly – perhaps without a trial.
Moreover, McCarthy has insisted that he wants to do impeachment by the book. Not the way Boebert offered up her resolution in June. So McCarthy could need to backtrack if the House somehow forges ahead with impeachment without an impeachment inquiry vote.
This is why some Republicans are treading carefully around impeachment.
“(McCarthy’s) pushed back on the word ‘impeachment,’” said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. “We’re not doing an impeachment. We’re not looking at impeachment directly. But we are realizing, as the question implies, that there’s enough there, there. There should be a concerted, bipartisan investigation.”
It’s possible that McCarthy could finesse “impeachment” in a way to convince reluctant Republicans to greenlight an impeachment investigation just because they want to “get to the facts.” But actually voting to impeach the President would be a real challenge.
So, back to the kitchen for now.
And if McCarthy doesn’t somehow whip up some impeachment meringue that satisfies the stomachs of some Republicans, the Impeachment Bistro should brace for a series of brutal reviews on Tripadvisor.