To modify an old British political idiom, sauce for Democrats is sauce for Republicans in bitterly divided America.
Potential impeachment is the sauce served this week to President Biden by Speaker Kevin McCarthy in response to disquiet over Biden’s involvement in the financial and legal dealings of son Hunter Biden.
“These are allegations of abuse of power, obstruction and corruption, and they warrant further investigation,” McCarthy said in announcing the impeachment inquiry. “And regardless of your party, or who you voted for, these facts should concern all Americans.”
McCarthy acted at the request of Republicans loyal to former President Trump, twice impeached by a Democrat-controlled House. The speaker did not conduct a House vote. That could come later despite Republicans holding a slim majority margin.
The White House described McCarthy’s decision as revenge, baseless and irrelevant to the Constitution’s requirement of “high crimes and misdemeanors” for impeachment.
That’s a no-surprises statement often mouthed by Biden. What followed, however, was unexpected and arrogant.
A letter sent by Biden special assistant Ian Sams to national news outlets urged them to “ramp up” scrutiny of the impeachment inquiry, implying it should “set off bells for news organizations” to debunk Republican allegations against the president.
Presidents often try to manipulate the press for their own ends. Yet cravenly calling on the top brass at the New York Times, Fox News, CNN, CBS and others to produce news stories critical of the Republican impeachment inquiry goes too far.
It is an insult to the impartial purpose of a free press. It is also puts reporters and editors on the story in a bad spot. Their work could be viewed as suspicious even when it is based on facts, records and interviews.
No one needs to tell the press what to do. It will be crawling all over the details of the impeachment inquiry. Biden needs to confine his interaction with journalists to answering questions, providing credible information and being transparent.
The simple matter is the White House stepped over the traditional line that separates the media’s role in our democracy from government’s role. If Biden is certain the impeachment inquiry will result in no hard evidence against him, then he should let it play out.
That includes scrutiny of Republican accusations that as vice president he influenced and benefited from his son’s lucrative foreign business dealings. and that he leveraged power as president to get his son a judge rejected plea agreement with prosecutors for no jail time on charges of tax evasion and lying on a gun purchase form.
It is obvious Trump and his congressional supporters are pushing to begin impeachment proceedings. McCarthy tapped the House Oversight Committee as the main inquiry body to determine if there’s sufficient evidence to conduct a full House impeachment hearing and vote.
Partisan battling will occur but, hopefully, not affect the outcome.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the combative Republican from Georgia, is fired up to help Trump. She filed articles of impeachment against Biden on the first day of the current House session. Considered a Trump confidant, she dined with the former president two days before McCarthy announced the House investigation, according to the New York Times.
The paper quoted Greene as telling Trump she wants the impeachment investigation to be “long and excruciatingly painful for Joe Biden” — and a long list of unnamed co-conspirators. She has no fear of engaging the press in off-the-cuff remarks.
Old-style enemy politics — practiced by Greene, Trump and Biden – are not the way to determine the validity of the impeachment inquiry.
CNHI News Service