When Legitimate Tools of the Republic Like Impeachment Are Abused Over Policy Disputes or for Trump’s Tit for Tat Desires

The misuse of the Republic’s legitimate parliamentary and constitutional tools reserved for times of great trouble has been a recurring theme in the past two Congresses.

It started with the House Democrats impeaching President Trump over his requested quid pro quo for the Ukrainians to investigate Hunter Biden in return for unpausing the $400 in US aid military aid that Trump agreed to send Ukraine (this happened about two and a half years before the Russian invasion).

The Democrat’s impeachment of Trump was followed by the House Republicans misusing a different tool meant for times of serious trouble—the motion to vacate the Chair.  This is used to remove the House Speaker, who is third in line in succession to the U.S. Presidency, should something simultaneously befall both the President and Vice President.

Recently, the House GOP has attempted to use impeachment to remove elected officials, even when the accusations appear unsubstantial and are unlikely to lead to a conviction in the U.S. Senate, where a two-thirds majority is required to impeach a U.S. official. This trend was highlighted by the House Republicans’ unsuccessful efforts to impeach Biden by proving corruption.

The House then voted to impeach DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over his border enforcement policies.

And Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s failed attempt to oust Speaker Johnson through a motion to vacate rounded out the trend.

This misuse of procedures that were designed for the proverbial “in case of emergency, break glass” situations makes the Republicans look extreme, chaotic, and unable to compromise among themselves or with the Democrats.

Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene believes this bodes well for the 2024 elections in November, others — not so much.

Now, it is against this backdrop that U.S. Senator Tom Cotton has kicked off yet another call for impeachment by urging the U.S. House to impeach President Biden for pausing the shipment of 1,800 U.S. 2,000 lb. bombs and artillery shells to Israel to be used against the Palestinians in Gaza and Rafah.

Republican Cory Mills has drafted and filed articles of impeachment against President Biden for pausing military aid to Israel, even though Rep. Mills voted twice against sending the aid to Israel.  Rep. Crane is the first and only other cosponsor of the articles of impeachment so far.  Mills has filed impeachment articles against the Secretary of Defense (with 3 cosponsors) and has cosponsored seven other articles of impeachment of various kinds.

Rep. Mills essentially cut and paste the language the Democrats used against Trump for pausing aid to Ukraine in his articles of impeachment of Biden for pausing aid to Israel.

The two precedents are connected by this language, but there was no war in Ukraine when Trump put his conditions of aid to Ukraine, while there is most definitely a war underway now in Israel.

Furthermore, there is precedent by four U.S. Presidents for Biden’s actions to delay aid to Israel over policy disagreements.

Several Republican Presidents have used this same tactic with Israel in the past, withholding aid to modify Israel’s behavior — including President Reagan and Presidents George H. Bush and George W. Bush, as well as President Obama.

But there is another and more practical legal problem with the impeachment articles, which is that an investigation into the actions of a specific Israeli unit’s operations in Gaza is now underway, as is required by the Leahy Law regarding U.S. military aid, if there be questions about the conduct of those using U.S. military aid.

Essentially, the Leahy Law, named after U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, prohibits the U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense from providing military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights with impunity. The law aims to ensure that U.S. foreign aid does not support or assist foreign military units accused of gross human rights abuses, such as torture, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, or rape during armed conflict.

To enforce the Leahy Law, the U.S. government conducts vetting procedures of foreign security forces eligible for assistance, primarily by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. military, which are looking into actions by the Netzah Yehuda Battalion.

That process is now underway or has been completed, with the State Department finding that five Israel Army units violated human rights, and remediation steps four units have already been taken, and remediation steps for the fifth unit are being discussed.

USA Today reported the U.S. investigation is still on-going but the State Department “could not definitively assess violations occurred, a senior State Department official who requested anonymity to discuss the unclassified document said.  The report covers the period through late April. It was transmitted to lawmakers on Friday afternoon.”

USA Today further reported:

The Biden administration acknowledged Friday that Israel likely used U.S.-made arms to inflict a higher number of civilian casualties in Gaza than is broadly deemed acceptable but stopped short of saying the close ally had violated U.S. weapons policy or international humanitarian law.

The State Department found that it is “reasonable to assess” that there are possible violations with hundreds of investigations open. But it could not definitively assess violations occurred, a senior State Department official who requested anonymity to discuss the unclassified document said.

It is unlikely that the filed articles of impeachment of Biden will do anything other than increase the scrutiny of the Israeli Defence Forces and cause the investigation conclusions to be more thoroughly examined.

If I had to guess, filing the articles of impeachment will likely also have the effect of further delaying the shipments of the 1,800 2,000 pound bombs and artillery shells to Israel by forcing the Biden administration to further justify its actions and will likely have the effect of strengthening the hand of those in the administration who want to continue to pause the shipments.

But ultimately, impeachment is simply the wrong mechanism to use for a policy dispute.

Impeachment should be reserved for clear and provable felonies by US government officials.

Constant calls for impeachment will, over time, have the effect of them being ignored and devalued, especially since they are all likely to fail in the Senate since a two-thirds vote for any measure are very few and very far between.

Given that President Trump was impeached twice, these articles of impeachment may have very little to do with the specifics of the impeachment and more to do with pleasing Trump, who believes since he was impeached, tit for tat, Biden should also be impeached twice.  It’s this “logic” that results in the wave of articles of impeachment filed against Biden or his cabinet — and the fact that they are being impeached over policy disputes is yet another example of the Bananization of the Republic.

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