Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy made waves earlier this week when he signaled an interest in commencing an impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden. Now former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is weighing in.
Gingrich, you may remember, used his position as Speaker of the House to relentlessly pursue then-President Bill Clinton – a pursuit that culminated in Clinton’s impeachment. But Gingrich, who is as responsible for the hyper-partisanship and the prosecution-minded stance of modern Congress as anyone, suggested restraint with respect to impeaching Biden. Why? Because Gingrich thought Vice President Kamala Harris would be worse than having Biden remain in office.
“Impeachment itself is a terrible idea,” Gingrich said. “The only short-term consequence of a successful impeachment is Kamala Harris [becoming president], and Kamala would be such a total disaster for the country that Biden’s corruption is probably preferable to her incompetence.”
Maybe Don’t Listen to Newt Gingrich
As I’ve mentioned, Gingrich is the guy who impeached Clinton – a move that “is widely seen as having politically backfired, leading to Republicans losing some seats in the 1998 midterms and Gingrich resigning as speaker,” Business Insider reported.
The fallout from the Gingrich-Clinton years extended well beyond the 1998 midterms. Really, the tenor of modern Congress derives directly from the Gingrich-led House of the 90s, in which Clinton was subjected to vigorous investigation of what turned out to be a variety of pseudo-scandals. And that’s not to say that Bill Clinton isn’t a sleaze, just that his actions probably didn’t deserve a response from the full weight of the United States Congress.
Fast forward a generation and we’ve got a House that impeached Donald Trump twice. And one of the impeachments was centered upon the full-blown conspiracy that Trump is some sort of Russian agent, beholden to Vladimir Putin. It was absurd – yet in the post-Gingrich-era Congress, it was sufficient reason to launch an impeachment. Similarly, today’s Republican-led House is committing significant resources toward uncovering some sort of Biden-related corruption. Nothing significant has been uncovered yet – but that doesn’t seem to matter.
It’s a frustrating reality, and Gingrich deserves a healthy portion of the blame.
Gingrich’s comments in context on Joe Biden
Gingrich’s comments were in response to current Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy’s suggestion that an impeachment inquiry was forthcoming.
“McCarthy touched broadly on several corners of the GOP probes ranging from payments Biden’s family members received from foreign companies to IRS whistleblowers who alleged the Justice Department hampered the Hunter Biden investigation to an uncorroborated FBI document at the heart of the GOP’s bribery investigation to argue that the Republican investigations are building in the direction of what would be a historic impeachment inquiry,” POLITICO reported.
Here’s what McCarthy said exactly, speaking to Fox News’s Sean Hannity.
“If you’re sitting in our position today, we would know none of this if Republicans had not taken the majority We only followed where the information has taken us. But…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 promised that Republicans would “follow this all the way to the end and this is going to rise from an impeachment inquiry.”
So, it sounds like McCarthy is taking some of his cues from his predecessor, Newt Gingrich.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor and opinion writer at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.