ICYMI: New York Times Opinion: Republicans Are Resurrecting Trump’s Burisma Lie
July 28, 2023
Key Point: “Rather than make a specific case, Republicans are trying to foment the cynical sense that scandal surrounds Biden just as it does Trump. The point is not to hold anyone accountable for actual wrongdoing, but to parody the process of trying.”
The New York Times Opinion: Republicans Are Resurrecting Trump’s Burisma Lie
By Michelle Goldberg
- “What I’m hearing from Republicans is that Speaker McCarthy basically has no choice,” Jamie Raskin, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said when I asked him whether impeachment was likely. “This is what they want.” And with yet another Trump indictment imminent, I suspect impeachment momentum will only accelerate. Amid the drama of a presidential front-runner facing multiple felony charges, Republicans are going to need counterprogramming.
- To be clear, impeachment is not what all Republicans want: As The New York Times wryly noted, some in the party argue “that the House must find actual corruption or wrongdoing before lawmakers consider impeachment.” Given McCarthy’s very thin margins in the House, he may not have the votes to begin a process some of his members are dreading. Nevertheless, with the Republican base clamoring for impeachment, McCarthy has clearly signaled it’s a live possibility. Which raises a question: Impeachment for what?
- Let’s recall why Trump tried to essentially extort Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. The ex-president wanted Zelensky’s help creating the false impression that a bribery scheme led Biden, as vice president, to call on the Ukrainian government to fire its prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin. In 2018, Rudy Giuliani dispatched two henchmen — both now convicted felons — to Ukraine to find proof that Biden had targeted Shokin to protect the energy company Burisma, which had put Biden’s son Hunter on its board.
- As Raskin points out, though, Trump’s Justice Department already scrutinized these claims and evidently found nothing worth acting on, and even some Republicans who eagerly hyped the recordings have since conceded they may not exist. Impeaching Biden over this kind of hearsay would be like impeaching Trump over the Steele dossier.
- Nevertheless, there is a sort of logic to House Republicans’ impeachment plans. Part of their motivation, Raskin argues, is an attempt to ensure that Trump isn’t the only 2024 candidate carrying the stigma of impeachment. More than that, by impeaching Biden for Burisma, they’d be signaling that Trump, as president, would have been justified in asking Zelensky to investigate Biden. Republicans may not be able to expunge Trump’s impeachments, which the ex-president is reportedly demanding. But they could retroactively try to excuse the behavior that led to the first one.
- And since the Republican aim is getting revenge and sowing confusion, rather than actually proving high crimes and misdemeanors, they may be able to use the obscurity of the allegations — and the need to plunge down various rabbit holes to understand them — to their advantage. Rather than make a specific case, Republicans are trying to foment the cynical sense that scandal surrounds Biden just as it does Trump. The point is not to hold anyone accountable for actual wrongdoing, but to parody the process of trying.