Editorial: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy — ringmaster of the GOP’s impeachment circus?

Kevin McCarthy speaks during a news conference.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) has not yet announced an inquiry into impeaching President Biden.
(Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)
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Even with subsequent qualifications, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s floating of the idea of an inquiry into impeaching President Biden is irresponsible and another example of McCarthy giving aid and comfort to the crazy caucus of the Republican Party.

In an interview on — where else? — Fox News, the Bakersfield Republican referred to congressional investigations of the Biden family and said: “This is rising to the level of impeachment inquiry, which provides Congress the strongest power to get the rest of the knowledge and information needed.” McCarthy later clarified that he was not yet announcing an impeachment inquiry.

Impeachment of the president is supposed to be based on the commission of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” But we are far from any justification for an impeachment inquiry. McCarthy cited old, much-hyped but unsubstantiated allegations that the president accepted bribes or was involved in questionable business activities of his son Hunter Biden when he was vice president. In an obvious attempt to damage Biden’s presidential bid, Senate Republicans tried, and failed, in 2020 to find evidence of corruption in these same allegations. Last October, McCarthy said that he didn’t see a basis for impeachment proceedings.


Republicans have begun the wasteful process of gathering evidence to impeach Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. It’s a blatant effort to score political points, rather than develop better border policy.

March 5, 2023

In what seemed like another see-saw, Politico reported that on Wednesday the speaker told a closed-door meeting of House Republicans that an impeachment probe would be launched only when and if Republicans secured the evidence to justify one. If that’s true, why raise impeachment at this point — other than to placate the party’s extremists? Or perhaps it’s an attempt to provide a distraction as Trump faces another criminal indictment, this time for allegedly trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

“There are some people that aren’t going to be happy until everybody in Washington gets impeached,” Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) told Politico. House Republicans are currently considering impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for “disastrous” border management and have recently raised the prospect of going after U.S Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland too. Treating impeachment as a routine tactic is contrary to the Constitution and corrosive of public trust in government.

A Manhattan grand jury voted to indict the former president on charges related to paying hush money to a former porn star. Convicted or acquitted, he is not fit for office.

March 30, 2023

Even worse would be to use this tactic as tit-for-tat retaliation for the two impeachments of Donald Trump by a Democratic-controlled House. Those impeachments were justified by evidence of Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate Biden, and Trump’s role in inciting the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol. In any event, the Republican-controlled House has been able to investigate allegations against Biden and has yet to find evidence of any wrongdoing.

In recent years, McCarthy has played many parts on the political stage: enabler of election denial, Trump apologist (he said he supports the idea pushed by extremists in his party to expunge the two impeachments of Trump) and punching bag for extremists in his party who prevented him from winning the speakership until the 15th ballot.

Does he want to add the even more demeaning role of ringmaster of the circus that an impeachment inquiry could easily become?