Updated Oct 2, 2022 - Politics & Policy

GOP's impeachment zeal

Impeachment resolutions introduced during <b style='color: #15A0FF'>Biden</b> and <b style='color: #F6643E;'>Trump's</b> presidency
Data: Congress.gov; Chart: Axios Visuals

House Republicans have introduced more than a dozen impeachment resolutions against President Biden and his officials, far outpacing Democrats' formal impeachment efforts at this point in former President Trump's term.

Why it matters: The failed impeachment efforts provide a roadmap for the investigations that Republicans — eager to make the rest of Biden's term a living nightmare — will likely pursue if they retake the majority after the midterms.

Driving the news: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), one of the most right-wing members of Congress, introduced a new article of impeachment against Biden last week for selling oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to foreign nations — a practice the Trump administration also engaged in.

By the numbers: House Republicans (mostly, but not all, members of the right-wing Freedom Caucus) have introduced a staggering 14 impeachment resolutions since Jan. 3, 2021.

  • Biden has been the target of nine, with two aimed at Attorney General Merrick Garland and one each against Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.
  • The most common charges have been mishandling the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and failing to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Greene alone has introduced five resolutions.

The other side: Though Democrats in the 115th Congress talked a big game about impeaching Trump for everything from accepting emoluments to firing FBI Director Jim Comey, they only introduced four impeachment resolutions in his first two years.

  • The impeachment efforts ramped up in the second half of his term, when Democrats took control of the House and introduced another eight resolutions — two of which ended in successful impeachment in the House and acquittal in the Senate.
  • Five resolutions were introduced in the days after the Capitol riot — four on Jan. 11, and another a day later.

Between the lines: Senior Republicans would likely draft their own articles if leadership ultimately decided to pursue impeachment after the midterms. But these toothless back-bench resolutions serve another valuable function: fundraising.

  • Just one day after her filing her latest article, Greene blasted out a fundraising email urging donors to "sign on as a citizen co-sponsor of my articles of impeachment."
  • Greene, a darling of the GOP's grassroots, has raised more than $10 million this cycle, making her the top fundraiser among freshman House members.
  • She told Axios in an interview that she's working to rally public support for impeachment: "I'll be echoing what the American people are saying, and they'll be demanding it. I think the Republican-controlled majority, if they want to be successful, especially going into 2024, they'll definitely make that a priority."

What we’re watching: If they take back the majority this year, don’t expect conservatives' fervor for impeachment to subside.

  • Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), in an interview with Axios, floated using impeachment threats as leverage in policy negotiations: "A fair trade off: we won’t pursue impeachment, but you go back to Trump border policies that were working."
  • The powerful Republican Study Committee is already laying the groundwork for an effort to impeach Mayorkas, Axios reported in April.

Yes, but: Leading Republicans are still wary of rushing hastily into an impeachment effort without a clear basis.

  • "When we get control, we need to launch investigations and let that lead us to the appropriate conclusion and repercussions," said RSC Chair Jim Banks (R-Ind.).
  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, asked last week how he would handle calls for impeachment as speaker, deflected, telling Axios: "We just put out the Commitment to America, that's what we're focused on."

Editor's note: This story originally published on Sept. 29.

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