Kevin McCarthy Is Impeaching Biden Because He Can’t Afford Not to

This content comes from the latest installment of our weekly Breaking the Vote newsletter out of VICE News’ D.C. bureau, tracking the ongoing efforts to undermine the democratic process in America. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Friday.

The real stakes of impeachment

Republicans are going to impeach Joe Biden, no matter what the facts show, because Donald Trump wants them to. He wants revenge, and he wants the equivalency of not being the only guy in the 2024 race to be impeached. That part is simple. 

The other part is simple, too. Trump may very well be a convicted felon on Election Day 2024, possibly for crimes stemming directly from his effort to overturn the last election he ran in. Between now and then, the public will see a deluge of under-oath court testimony showing that the likely GOP nominee is a criminal. 

The value of Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s impeachment inquiry isn’t smoking-gun evidence, or even a vote. It’s the months of headlines and credulous “politics as combat” coverage it will generate that will replace the idea “Trump’s corrupt” with “well, ok, but both guys are corrupts” in voters’ minds. 

I have more to say about how that dynamic works (cough Benghazi!) if you care to read it. But the quest to justify and erase Trump’s anti-democratic assault through impeachment wasn’t even the most important news of the week. Because one famous GOP senator outlined the stakes. 

Mitt Romney is retiring from the Senate, and has been spending a lot of time with journalist McKay Coppins in the run-up to the announcement. Coppins has a book on Romney, one of the last principled holdouts of the pre-MAGA GOP, coming out soon. But if you haven’t read the excerpt timed for Romney’s announcement, you should. 

In addition to Romney’s strange eating habits and utter disappointment with his colleagues, there was news (not that many, many Republicans detest Trump privately but are afraid to say so. That’s not news). 

Coppins viewed texts from Romney to Mitch McConnell four days before Jan 6, in which Romney warned the leader of right-wing chatter threatening both men, and especially of Romney’s concern that Trump could use his power to encourage them. This was before Jan. 6. McConnell never responded. 

It’s hard to decide what’s more shocking here: That lawmakers had such detailed advance concerns about Jan. 6 that law enforcement dismissed, or that sitting GOP senators openly discussed the risk of the President of the United States using the security apparatus to harm them.

These days, Romney, one of just seven Republicans to vote to convict Trump for Jan. 6, is attacked regularly by Trump. That translates to a particularly hostile and dangerous environment when he travels and speaks. Coppins reports that the man who a just decade ago was his party’s nominee for president, is now in enough danger that he pays $5,000 a day for protection from his own party’s voters. 

Romney also relates conversations with multiple House and Senate Republicans who told him they wanted to vote to impeach Trump but didn’t out of fear for their own safety and the safety of their families. Let that, as they say, sink in. 

Again, read the piece. It should put Kevin McCarthy’s impeachment inquiry gambit into clear light. 

McCarthy is launching impeachment specifically to obscure Trump’s attack on democracy, and possibly his felony convictions for it. He’s doing it to slide past voters the horror of Jan. 6, the same horror that compelled him to condemn Trump—just days before supplicating to him. 

MAGA Republicans are making clear that a GOP in which dissenters literally fear for their lives—and vote accordingly—is now the only game in town. McCarthy will make impeachment happen, hide the leader’s crimes and help him back into power, or risk becoming one of the dissenters himself. 

After reading the Romney story I thought of one of the quirky biographical tales McCarthy likes to tell. Once, as a young man, he won $5000 in a lottery jackpot. That’s a lot of cash, and back then he used it as seed money to open a deli. It’s ironic that today that $5,000 would pay for exactly 24 hours of the protection McCarthy will need if he crosses Donald Trump. 

Don’t forget to sign your friends up for Breaking the Vote!

When you’re facing 91 felonies, in four criminal cases, with a total of 20 co-defendants, there are a lot of pre-trial motions. There are wayyy too many to keep track of here, so here are the highlights from Trump’s crime universe (BTW, check out that link for a really weird and fun VICE piece Greg Walters, Madeleine May, and I made back in the innocent days before Trump was charged). 

Fulton County

Severmore – Trump and the 17 Fulton County co-defendants won’t be going to court with Ken Chesebro and Sidney Powell. Judge Scott McAfee ordered the two RICO-accused lawyers’ cases severed from the rest of the alleged co-conspirators. That means there won’t be the one big, giant, 19-defendant trial DA Fani Willis said she wanted. 

It’s not a surprise. McAfee made clear in recent weeks a unified trial under Ken (his job is just…elector) and Sid’s speedy trial request wasn’t going to happen. 

Keep it moving – But speaking of Chesebro and Powell, Judge McAfee also confirmed yesterday that he intends to start jury selection on Oct. 23, with a trial to start Nov. 5. Speedy trial indeed. Both of them made motions to dismiss their charges, Chesebro because he’s a lawyer and Powell because local officials said the hacking of Coffee County voting machines was okay. Good luck with that. 

On second thoughtMark Meadows withdrew his request to stop his prosecution while the 11th Circuit considers his appeal on federal removal. Meadows wants to remove his case to federal court, but he lost, resoundingly, in federal court. Now that decision is in expedited review at the appellate level, so stay tuned. But since his case is severed from Powell and Chesebro, the emergency stay stuff is unnecessary. 

Federal coup case

Donald Trump is trying to get Judge Tanya Chutkan kicked off his four-count federal case. Thing is, the only person who can remove Chutkan right now is… Chutkan. Trump’s lawyers are pointing to statements Chutkan made while sentencing other Jan. 6 defendants as evidence of her incurable bias against him. 

In one case, Chutkan said rioters “were there in fealty, in loyalty, to one man—not to the Constitution” and that the rioters had “a blind loyalty to one person who, by the way, remains free to this day.” According to Trump’s lawyers, that’s evidence Chutkan thinks Trump should not be free. 

Recusals are rare, Trump can appeal, and Judge Chutkan’s ruling is expected soon.

Stormy’s hush money

Merchan to his own drum – Trump’s 34-count trial for lying about hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels looks like it’s going to move. That’s not a huge surprise, since Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg signaled over the summer he’d be open to moving the March 25, 2024 trial date to accommodate the defendant’s very busy criminal dance card. 

Now Judge Juan Merchan, who’s presiding, put off a scheduling meeting this week citing Trump’s crowded trial schedule and all its moving parts.

Special Counsel Jack Smith speaks to the press at the US Department of Justice in Washington, DC, on June 9, 2023, announcing the unsealing of the indictment against former US President Donald Trump. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)


We finally have a protective order governing how all the classified information in the case will be handled. The big point: Trump appears to have lost his dream to review classified evidence in the luxurious confines of Mar-a-Lago and Bedminster. 

Trump made a request over the summer to build a classified document review facility, called a SCIF, at Mar-a-Lago, just like he had as president. The big problem now is that Mar-a-Lago is the scene of the alleged crime, the crime being mishandling classified docs. Add onto that obstruction (moving boxes so feds can’t find them), and then obstruction of that obstruction (destroying surveillance footage so feds can’t see the box-moving). 

Co-defendant Walt Nauta, the valet, also won’t have access to classified information except in very limited circumstances, since he’s not charged with mishandling them. 

Fail seizure!

Now we know why an 11th Circuit panel barred Jack Smith’s investigators from accessing much of the information on coup insider Scott Perry’s seized phone. Because he’s a congressman, Perry’s communications about the 2020 election, and presumably Trump’s  effort to overturn it, are protected by the Constitution's “speech or debate” clause. 

The three appellate judges ruled that any communications Perry made on his phone, especially while talking with other members of Congress and staff about the Jan. 6 electoral certification, is likely protected. US District Judge Beryl Howell, who originally ruled the phone in-bounds for investigators, will have to approve individual communications from Perry’s phone on a case-by-case basis. 

That’s a victory for Perry, who is identified in the Jan. 6 report as a central congressional figure in the coup plot. Perry may be immune from many searches and some prosecution, but he certainly didn’t think at the time that everything he was doing was legally pure. 

Jack’s back

Perry might be especially grateful that many of his texts and phone records are out of bounds, given that the grand jury that indicted Trump and described six co-conspirators is back in business. The secret gang got back together last week after a four-week break, and is reportedly following the money. They’re digging into how of the cash raised with a “stolen election” pitch was used to fund voting machine breaches in several locations. 

You’ve heard of Coffee County, where a voting machine breach is now part of the Georgia RICO indictment. But don’t forget that defendants have been charged with similar breaches in Michigan, and, of course our favorite, Mesa County, Colo. 

Rioters’ guilt of America

The man who smashed the window Ashlee Babbitt climbed through before she was shot and killed was convicted this week. Zachary Alam, of Virginia, was found guilty of 11 charges, including 8 felonies related to the Jan. 6 insurrection. Alam smashed a window to the Speaker’s Lobby just feet from the House floor, where staff and lawmakers were holed up during the riot. He was found guilty of assaulting police officers, obstructing an official proceeding, and other charges. 

Meanwhile, Joseph Padilla, of Tennessee, was sentenced to six-and-a-half years for his role in the riot. Padilla was seen on camera assaulting police officers and boasting about his exploits. Prosecutors say Padilla spent more than three hours on the West Front of the Capitol, rushing barricades and, at one point, throwing a flag pole that struck an officer in the helmet. 

Never gonna give you up

Alabama Republicans are not letting go of their dream of diluting Black voting power, no matter what that court order says. For weeks we’ve been following the Alabama GOP’s defiant refusal to obey the 11th Circuit, and SCOTUS, and change its gerrymandered congressional map to increase Black representation. 

Yup, as predicted, they’re headed back to SCOTUS, asking justices if they’re sure they don’t want to gut what’s left of the Voting Rights Act. Stay tuned.

Peter pall 

Convicted Trump aide and TV coup describer Peter Navarro is trying to get a mistrial. Soon after his guilty verdicts for ignoring two January 6 committee subpoenas, Navarro’s lawyers were back in court arguing that jurors were tainted by seeing protesters outside the courthouse. Jurors took a “fresh-air” break during deliberations while protesters were in the vicinity. They returned the guilty verdicts a short time later, and Navarro’s lawyers say the experience biased the panel against ol’ Pete. Hearing will be in a couple weeks. 

Games, Madison

Hey, why should House Republicans get to impeach all the democratically-elected officials they wish they’d beaten? Wisconsin Senate GOP leader Robin Vos is now shifting his party’s Supreme court impeachment fervor to a panel of former justices. You’ll recall Republicans have been threatening to impeach newly-elected liberal Justice Janet Protasiewicz if she tries to rule on the state’s heavily GOP-gerrymandered maps. 

Last week Vos tried to circumvent the new liberal-majority court by offering a bill to have nonpartisan state staffers draw new maps. The Dem governor rejected that plan, so now Vos is “exploring” impeachment, kind of like how Kevin McCarthy is “inquiring” about it in Washington. Everyone’s “just asking questions!” 

Democracy in Wisconsin is a multi-front war. Also this week, Vos and other Republicans voted to replace Megan Wolfe, the nonpartisan head of the Wisconsin Election Commission. They want to replace her ahead of the 2024 election with their own pick. Wolfe promptly sued

Oregon trial 

Fox News has two new litigants lining up to sue the network for airing relentless lies about the 2020 election. New York City’s pension funds and the State of Oregon joined up in an east-meets-west lawsuit saying Fox’s “Big Lie” programming amounted to a fiduciary breach that destroyed shareholder value. Fox paid $787 million to settle a suit by Dominion Voting Systems, and another suit from Smartmatic is still pending. 

Basta, Shasta

Back in April, VICE News went to Shasta County, Calif., where MAGA believers on the county board had just voted to outlaw Dominion voting machines and go to a full hand count for more than 110,000 registered voters. That’s a terrible, worst-practice policy based on false theories about voting machines… so California just banned it. 

A bill passed this week bans hand-counts in any election with more than 1,000 voters, or any special election with more than 5,000 voters. The county was planning to hand-count its local elections in November, but that plan is done as soon as the governor signs the bill. 

LOL, Christian soldier

Good one, Mike Pence.

“A very large portion of my party really doesn’t believe in the Constitution.”

— Sen. Mitt Romney, who announced he’s retiring from the Senate this week.

Businessman and election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell talks with reporters outside the club house at the Trump National Golf Club hours ahead of a speech by former U.S. President Donald Trump on June 13, 2023 in Bedminster, New Jersey. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Mad sick Mike — One America News Network (OANN) and one of its top personalities settled out of court with a former executive from Dominion Voting Systems earlier this month, after the executive sued them for defamation… for all the reasons you already know. Eric Coomer also sued Mike Lindell, who was so “vulgar, threatening (and) loud” in his deposition that plaintiff’s lawyers asked to do his deposition over, this time in front of the judge.

At one point, Lindell thought attorneys insulted MyPillow, which was also sued. "When you say lumpy pillows, now you’re an asshole. You got that? You’re an asshole."

Givin’ em the what-fourteen — A little more than a week after one group sued under the 14th Amendment to keep Trump off the ballot in Colorado, another has sued in Minnesota. Last year when this whole 14th Amendment thing was just getting off the ground, I spoke last year with Ron Fein, counsel for Free Speech for People, the group that’s suing in Minnesota.  

The Secretary of State there isn’t keen on the idea that his office can make the call on Trump’s eligibility. And he’s not alone. Most state officials seem to want to stay out of it, since the question is definitely going to the Supreme Court anyway. 

Russia to his defenseVladmir Putin absolutely does not like how Donald Trump is being treated. 

Jack Smith’s deputy is a “law man” type who’s taken on Trumpworld.


CNN should become the anti-Fox/pro-truth network.


24 for ‘24: Urgent recommendations for fair and legitimate 2024 US elections.



You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress | Designed by: Premium WordPress Themes | Thanks to Themes Gallery, Bromoney and Wordpress Themes