With Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) facing a censure vote in the House yesterday, June 14, and Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas about to undergo an investigation and possible impeachment beginning today, it seems the American public is enraptured with political scandal. More entertaining than a TV soap opera, and with all the prizes and punishments that put reality TV to shame, the plots and schemes of government provide a heady environment for drama.
In the early 17th century, Charles Drelincourt wrote of “un Advocat qui s’embarasse dans les intrigues du Palais” or “an advocate embarrassed* in the intrigues of the palace.” And thus spawned a long legacy of describing the machinations of those in power. The American fascination with “go big or go home” is in no way precluded from the arena of palace intrigue, and Congress is certainly no exception. With a proposed mass of expulsions and impeachments, it seems that the DC denizens are determined to make their mark by any means available.
On the Schiff List?
Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL) introduced measures to both censure and fine Schiff for “lies, misrepresentations and abuses of sensitive information” during the FBI probe of Russian collusion during the 2016 election.
As the top Democrat on the House Intel Committee during Donald Trump’s administration, Schiff was privy to information withheld from the public and other lawmakers. He used this position to condemn Trump publicly and in the nation’s press, on numerous occasions saying that he had seen “evidence” of collusion. He told NBC’s Chuck Todd there was “circumstantial evidence of collusion” as well as “direct evidence … of deception.” Both the Mueller and Durham probes found no such evidence.
Luna’s resolution sought to see Schiff expelled from the House and fined a hefty sum. She called the $16 million penalty a refund for the “American taxpayers [who] were forced to pay for the Russia hoax investigation.” The man in question, naturally, sees things very differently.
Late Wednesday, the House voted 225-196 against the censure, with 20 Republicans joining almost all Democrats – five GOP members and two Dems simply voted present. But perhaps the intention was rather to relitigate Schiff’s statements in the public square than to follow through with the expulsion and fine. With Schiff now running for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s California seat, any bad publicity for the Senate hopeful is good news for the GOP.
The Secret to Good Comedy
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) on Tuesday, June 13, introduced articles of impeachment against the president, claiming that he mishandled his “constitutional duty to secure our southern border.” “I introduced the articles of impeachment in the last Congress and had fully intended to introduce them this Congress, but I was also giving some other committees and leadership the opportunity to lead on this,” Boebert said.
She stressed that she would prefer to give all parties time to act, but warned that if the administration does nothing “about the president’s failure to secure our southern border and keep the country safe,” she will introduce the legislation under a privileged motion.
“It’s about Joe Biden’s failure to secure the southern border,” the congresswoman told Fox News. “And I did this so at any time, if the committees and or leadership does not step up and actually do something about the president’s failure to secure our southern border and keep the country safe, then I will call my legislation my articles of impeachment for a privileged motion.”
And the List Goes On …
It is not only elected lawmakers who are facing the “fire and fury” of a newly emboldened House majority. A groundswell for impeaching appointed officials is also coming to a boil. The most notable recipient being Mayorkas for his mishandling of the border, and “going out of his way to allow this invasion on our southern border,” as California Rep. Mike Garcia (R) puts it. “When the Joker is acting like the Joker, it’s one thing,” he said. “But when Batman — who’s supposed to be protecting you — starts acting like the Joker, you’ve got to do something about it.”
And then there is Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is under fire after it was revealed that he was involved in organizing the letter from 51 national security experts to debunk the Hunter Biden laptop story. According to a Rasmussen Reports survey, 60% of Americans think he should be impeached for his role in what many see as a cover-up. He is also facing contempt of Congress charges for his unwillingness to assist House Republicans in investigating the botched Afghanistan withdrawal in 2021.
Nothing New Under the Sun
It would be tempting to think of the new GOP House majority as politically litigious opportunists, but that stance is far from fair or accurate. Impeachment and contempt charges were positively rife during the Trump era, and many individuals have still yet to recover their careers and standing after being targeted by the Democrat-led lower chamber. Trump notably faced two impeachment trials, but chatter and efforts to “hold him to account” were well underway before he even took office.
It seems that impeachments and threats of such are tools in a wide-ranging kit from which lawmakers can choose. But like any tool, it often has more than one purpose. Remember, impeaching is hard work and risky, but getting the Fourth Estate talking about it can sometimes do just as much damage.
*”embarrassed” here could also be translated as “entangled” or “embroiled” in this quote.
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