As House Republicans kick off an impeachment inquiry against President Biden, the White House is executing a long-planned strategy to meet politics with politics.
Forget the weighty legal arguments over the meaning of high crimes and misdemeanors or the constitutional history of the removal process. Mr. Biden’s defense team has chosen to take on the Republican threat by convincing Americans that it is nothing more than base partisanship driven by a radical opposition.
A day after Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced the inquiry in response to pressure from his right wing, the White House and its allies went on the offensive Wednesday, dismissing the allegations against the president as baseless and debunked, attacking the investigators for distorting the evidence, issuing fund-raising appeals to financial supporters and pressuring the news media to frame the conflict on their terms.
If it feels more like a political campaign than a serious legal proceeding, that is because at this point it is, at least as the White House sees it and would like others to. In the first 24 hours of their inquiry, the House Republicans made no new requests for documents, issued no new subpoenas, demanded no new testimony and laid out no potential articles of impeachment. Instead, they went to the cameras to call Mr. Biden a liar and a crook, so Mr. Biden’s defenders went to the cameras to return fire.
“We’re battling it out in the court of public opinion at this stage because that’s all that McCarthy has done, the theater of impeachment,” Ian Sams, a senior adviser to the White House Counsel’s Office who is leading the communications campaign, said in an interview after a day in which he made the rounds on television news shows.
At a campaign reception in McLean, Va., on Wednesday night, the president noted that Republicans had been pushing for an impeachment inquiry from the beginning of his administration.
“I don’t know quite why, but they just knew they wanted to impeach me,” he said. “And now, the best I can tell, they want to impeach me because they want to shut down the government.” He added: “I get up every day, not a joke, not focused on impeachment. I’ve got a job to do.”
The Republican investigation so far has not produced concrete evidence of a crime by the president, as even some Republicans have conceded. Testimony has suggested that his son, Hunter Biden, traded on the family name to secure millions of dollars in business, including from foreign firms, and that he put his father on the phone sometimes with would-be clients to impress them.
But Hunter Biden’s former business partner testified that the future president engaged only in idle chitchat, not business, during those calls. No evidence has been produced indicating that Mr. Biden himself received any money from his son’s business dealings or used his power as vice president to benefit Hunter’s financial interests.
For the Biden team, the mission now is to discredit the impeachment inquiry among independent voters and wayward Democrats before it reaches a crescendo. It is a strategy employed in the past by other presidents targeted for impeachment, Bill Clinton and Donald J. Trump.
The Republicans so far have helped Mr. Biden’s effort, often speaking about the investigations into the president’s family in starkly political terms. Mr. Trump, who is seeking a rematch of his 2020 loss to Mr. Biden, has loudly pushed fellow Republicans to impeach because “THEY DID IT TO US!”, as he wrote on social media.
Read the full article here: White House Strategy on Impeachment: Fight Politics With Politics – NY Times