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GOP reps push to ‘expunge’ Trump impeachments from the record

For some House Republicans, the goal isn’t just to impeach President Biden, it’s also to un-impeach his immediate predecessor.


Congressional Republicans don’t appear to have much interest in governing, but a surprising number of GOP lawmakers have a lot of interest in impeaching. There are currently impeachment resolutions pending against nearly half of the White House Cabinet, and on Thursday, House Republicans were unanimous in their support for a measure that referred an impeachment resolution targeting President Joe Biden to two committees.

But for some GOP members, the goal isn’t just to impeach the incumbent president, it’s also to un-impeach his immediate predecessor. Axios reported:

Two House Republicans on Thursday unveiled measures to “expunge” former President Trump’s two impeachments. ... Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) introduced resolutions “expunging” Trump’s 2019 and 2021 impeachments, respectively.

According to Stefanik, the House Republican conference chair, if the measure were to pass, it would be “as if such articles of impeachment had never passed the full House of Representatives.”

As ridiculous as this might sound, the push isn’t coming out of nowhere. Let’s revisit our earlier coverage and review how we arrived at this deeply foolish point.

It was in early 2020, just two days after his first Senate impeachment trial wrapped up, when the Republican first broached the subject of invalidating what had happened to him. “Should they expunge the impeachment in the House?” Trump asked during a brief Q&A with reporters. “They should because it was a hoax.”

His message resonated with some of his allies. Indeed, then-Rep. Markwayne Mullin, before the Oklahoman’s election to the Senate, actually introduced a resolution that would’ve declared Trump’s first impeachment as “expunged.” Soon after, Mullin also took aim at Trump’s second impeachment, and that effort gained the support of, among others, Stefanik, who made some amazingly misguided arguments in support of the idea.

The effort was largely ignored — there was a Democratic majority in the House at the time — but as the current Congress got underway, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he was willing to take a look at the idea, adding, “I would understand why members would want to bring that forward.” Several GOP members endorsed the move soon after.

History buffs might recall that a related effort happened nearly two centuries ago. Lawmakers censured then-President Andrew Jackson in 1834, only to have his allies “expunge” the censure from the record in 1837 after control of the Senate switched party hands.

The point at the time was for partisans to say that the congressional action happened, but for the sake of the historical record, it didn’t really count. Trump’s acolytes appear to have similar intentions now.

I won’t pretend to know whether this push will succeed, but as the process unfolds, pay particular attention to the members championing the effort to undo what’s been done. The fact that Greene is helping lead the charge is entirely predictable: The right-wing Georgian is one of the most radical members of Congress in modern history.

Stefanik, however, is a different story. As regular readers may recall, the New Yorker used to be a relative GOP moderate who, as recently as 2016, was reluctant to even say Trump’s name out loud for fear that voters might see her as a Trump ally. It was around this time when the congresswoman encouraged voters to see her as one of Congress’ “most bipartisan” members.

In 2017, when nearly all congressional Republicans rallied behind Trump’s proposed tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations, Stefanik voted against it. At the time, she was the kind of congresswoman who would’ve seen someone like Greene coming and run in the opposite direction.

Stefanik eventually concluded, however, that to get ahead in GOP politics, she would need to put her principles aside and start embracing partisan nonsense. By 2020, the congresswoman had adopted an entirely new persona as a hard-liner and Trump loyalist, and after the 2020 race, Stefanik joined with radicals and urged the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn election results she didn’t like. Weeks later, she also voted against certifying election results.

Now she’s partnering with one of Congress’ most notorious extremists to un-impeach her party’s scandal-plagued former president. To appreciate the tragic trajectory of the contemporary Republican Party, look no further than what’s become of the House GOP conference chair.

This post revises our related earlier coverage.