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The latest news concerning Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s announcement of an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden leaves little doubt that this could be the weakest impeachment inquiry in US history. Despite the House’s active investigation into Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings, constitutional scholar Philip Bobbitt and Frank Bowman, professor emeritus at the University of Missouri, have expressed doubt that any evidence ties the president to corrupt activities.
Both experts point out that all previous presidents who faced impeachment proceedings had notable evidence indicting them of misconduct. In the case of Nixon and Clinton, that evidence was supported by special counsel investigations and/or Senate inquiries. Biden, on the other hand, has yielded no tangible evidence of wrongdoing.
Without adequate evidence, McCarthy’s decision looks to be the product of malicious political intent. Past impeachment inquiries were launched only after careful consideration of the evidence, and Nancy Pelosi demonstrated caution with her reluctance to impeach Trump for two years. McCarthy’s move, without a vote, goes against the spirit of the impeachment process as a check and balance on the executive branch’s power.
The decision to initiate an impeachment inquiry is essentially the sole discretion of House leadership, and the rules around those inquiries are poorly defined. Without an agreed-upon set of standards, an open abuse of the impeachment process could weaken the federal system of checks and balances by making such extreme measures seem commonplace.
McCarthy’s ultimate goal with this inquiry could very well be to gain access to Biden’s financial documents and then attempt to impeach him for obstruction of Congress. If this plays out, it will be an unprecedented attack on a president’s right by his political opponents.
In the end, open inquiry or not, the lack of evidence pointing toward Biden’s misconduct lessens the impeachment inquiry’s credibility. For those concerned about the impact this inquiry could have on the power of impeachment and the federal system of checks and balances, it’s comforting to see that experts like Bowman and Bobbitt are well aware of the dangers this investigation could bring