Jun 29, 2023

Impeaching Joe Biden.

Photo: Alan Santos/PR
Photo: Alan Santos/PR

Some Republicans are trying to boot Biden from office.

I’m Isaac Saul, and this is Tangle: an independent, nonpartisan, subscriber-supported politics newsletter that summarizes the best arguments from across the political spectrum on the news of the day — then “my take.”

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Today's read: 12 minutes.

The push to impeach Joe Biden. Plus, a reader question about how to be "zen" in the world of politics and reader feedback.

Heads up.

We are taking a brief break for the July 4th holiday. We'll be taking off from the newsletter and podcast on Monday and Tuesday, and back in action on Wednesday (almost assuredly covering the Supreme Court’s ruling on affirmative action). Tomorrow, however, we are releasing a Friday edition. The headline for that edition is "Sometimes, the edgelords are actually racist." So, yeah. You should subscribe and make sure you get it. It'll be spicy!


To Davis, who is currently reading from Sonoma, California, and won two VIP tickets to the Tangle event in August. I asked Davis if he had anything he wanted to say in the newsletter, and he wrote back: "My strongest sentiment for the times is that everyone can do something to sustain democracy. One can be informed without being an expert, one can help without doing everything and collectively we are stronger than individually. Thank you for Tangle Isaac, I do spread the word all the time."

If you entered the contest but didn't win, don't worry — you'll be hearing from us soon. And don't forget to get your tickets!

Quick hits.

  1. BREAKING: In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court has ruled that race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina were unlawful, effectively curtailing affirmative action at colleges and universities around the country. (The ruling
  2. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told Fox News that if he were elected president, he would support eliminating the IRS, and the departments of Energy, Commerce, and Education. (The comments
  3. Former Marine Daniel Penny pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide for his alleged role in the death of Jordan Neely on a New York City subway. (The plea
  4. Former President Donald Trump filed a countersuit against E. Jean Carroll for defamation. Carroll won a civil suit against Trump after a jury found him liable of sexual abuse. (The suit
  5. 12 people were killed and over 60 were injured by a Russian missile strike that hit a Ukrainian pizza parlor. (The attack)

Today's topic.

Impeaching Joe Biden. Last week, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) introduced a resolution to impeach President Joe Biden, citing "high crimes and misdemeanors" for his handling of the U.S. border with Mexico.

Initially, Boebert used what is called a privileged resolution to force a snap vote on the impeachment, which (if passed) would have sent it to the Senate for a vote. Instead, House Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) publicly called for Republicans to join Democrats in voting the resolution down, which then forced Boebert to negotiate in order to avoid losing a floor vote. After those negotiations, she agreed to merge her resolution with a border-related impeachment resolution aimed at Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

This new resolution was then passed into committee on a 219-208 party line vote, where it'll be considered by members or can languish indefinitely.

"Tonight, I brought a privileged motion to the floor that will force a vote on the impeachment of Joe Biden," Boebert tweeted on Tuesday. "The American people can no longer be subjected to a president who refuses to secure our borders. His open border agenda has put every American at greater risk, allowed human traffickers to thrive and given the cartel a free pass. He is not fit to remain as commander-in-chief."

Boebert's push to impeach the president caught some Republicans off guard, but there is still increasing momentum to pursue impeachment among factions of the right. Boebert celebrated the movement of the resolution, saying the "House is taking historic action."

Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) reportedly got into an argument over the impeachment resolution, as Greene — who called Boebert a "nasty little bitch" on the House floor and then repeated the insult to reporters — said she had her own impeachment resolution she was planning to introduce before Boebert went ahead on her own. Greene had introduced articles of impeachment back in January of 2021 and then again in May, and said Boebert "basically copied my articles" and then tried to leapfrog her with the privileged resolution, Semafor reported.

Meanwhile, House leadership and many other Republicans in the caucus have expressed skepticism about pursuing impeachment, which is one of the most serious political acts a party can attempt.

"He’s a terrible president," Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) told The Wall Street Journal. "However, before you impeach a president, there is a process of fact-gathering, building a case, making sure that you’re going down the right avenues. I always prefer to change those in elected office at the ballot box."

Just three presidents have ever been impeached: Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump twice, first in late 2019 for pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Biden family while using U.S. financial and military aid as leverage. He was impeached a second time in 2021 for his actions as the January 6 riot unfolded. Many Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), were initially skeptical of Trump’s first impeachment before ultimately supporting it.

Meanwhile, Greene and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) are pushing to expunge Trump's impeachments, and also planning to pursue articles of impeachment for Attorney General Merrick Garland and Secretary Mayorkas.

Today, we're going to take a look at some reactions to the impeachment push from the left and right, then my take.

What the right is saying.

  • The right is divided on the issue, with some arguing this is the result of Democrats’ reckless impeachments against Trump and others suggesting this is badly timed and poorly thought out.
  • Some say Democrats pursued equally questionable impeachments and have now made them a regular part of political life.
  • Others suggest this is going to distract from more important priorities and make Republicans look divided and partisan to voters.

In the Washington Examiner, Byron York said impeachment has "become an increasingly regular part of American political battling."

"There was one impeachment in the first 200 years of U.S. history. There have been three in the last 25 years. Something has changed," York wrote. "Boebert has a recent model for what she is doing, and that model is Rep. Al Green (D-TX), who worked tirelessly to impeach former President Donald Trump until he finally succeeded... Green first filed articles of impeachment against Trump on May 17, 2017, when the president had been in office just under four months. Green's articles were a mishmash of liberal complaints against Trump," and he had several House Democrats supporting him along the way.

In December of 2017, Green "got 58 votes — roughly a third of the entire House Democratic conference." He was shocked by his success. "So now, is impeachment of Biden justified? Again, it doesn't really matter. Impeachment is no longer a weapon of last resort." One could argue Republicans opened this can of worms with Bill Clinton, but they followed "an old model" with an outside investigator and meticulously gathered evidence "that recognized the rights of minority lawmakers." Democrats threw that all out with Trump. "Many people will undoubtedly wonder why some Republicans are doing it. The answer is, they are just following a new but already well-worn path."

In Fox News, Newt Gingrich said this probably feels good, "but it is exactly the wrong approach."

"A knee-jerk effort to impeach a President of the United States without preparation, hearings, a full understanding of the facts – and the support of the American people – will only hurt Republican efforts to lead our country toward a better future," Gingrich wrote. "For starters, the impeachment will fail. At the most elementary political level, it’s not a great idea to start fights you can’t win. The majority we created in 1994 fell apart 12 years later in part because too many Republicans became willing to fail over niche ideological issues. It cost them their seats and delivered the House to Nancy Pelosi (the first time)."

Second, "a messy, clumsy impeachment effort" is exactly what Democrats and the media want. "It will allow Democrats to bury all positive efforts coming out of the Republican-led House. They could easily point to the hasty impeachment and paint the narrow GOP majority as one that is negative, divisive, and totally political." Democrats already ran this playbook on Trump and got "voted out." Americans want Congress "to work on making their grocery and gas bills shrink," and "to get Americans back to work and reign in government spending." That's why the GOP majority got elected. "Why would we copy a failed Democrat playbook?"

In HotAir, Jazz Shaw criticized Associated Press reporter Stephen Groves and others in the media for their hand-wringing over the latest news.

"The latest round of accusations involves how the House GOP in particular is 'abusing' its power to discipline people in the executive branch and even some members of the legislature. Groves specifically calls out the successful effort to censure Adam Schiff and ongoing discussions of potential impeachment proceedings of various bad actors ranging from Merrick Garland to Joe Biden himself," Shaw wrote. "This is a curious argument to make when you consider the source." Groves and the AP have been "big fans of impeachment" when it was South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, "who by what I’m sure is a total coincidence, happens to be a Republican."

There was also "nary a complaint" at the Associated Press during the "circus acts" of Trump's impeachments. Still, Shaw says, "I will readily admit that I too have become uncomfortable with the ease with which both parties have taken to seriously discussing impeachment and censures." The last three impeachments "were fully partisan in nature and no president has ever been convicted." Impeachment is still a "political act," not a law enforcement one, and "impeaching a president when there is no chance of removal by the Senate remains largely a waste of the legislature’s time."

What the left is saying.

  • The left is unanimously opposed to impeachment, criticizing Republicans as incompetent and extreme.
  • Some say voters gave Republicans a chance and they are misusing it with a sham impeachment.
  • Others suggest this is an embarrassing episode that is ultimately all about fundraising.

In The Washington Post, Dana Milbank said voters "gave Republicans a chance."

"And now Republicans are starting their impeachment binge," Milbank said. "No impeachment proceedings. No investigation. No evidence. No crimes. Not so much as a parking ticket. Just a willy-nilly, snap vote to impeach the president, because Boebert dislikes Biden’s immigration policies. In her mind, 'President Biden has intentionally facilitated a complete and total invasion at the southern border,' she charged on the House floor." Then "Congresswoman Jewish Space Lasers" confronted Boebert "and called her a 'little b-—' who 'copied my articles of impeachment,' according to a Daily Beast account that Greene confirmed."

"Enduring derision from the Democratic side — 'nutty,' 'pathetic,' 'losers' — House Republicans voted, unanimously, for what will, in effect, be the beginning of impeachment proceedings against Biden," Milbank said. This stunt "has opened the impeachment floodgates," and now Republicans can "be expected to play with their new toy, using the privileged-resolution maneuver to force impeachment votes against whatever Biden administration official looks at them crossways on any given day. Greene alone has introduced impeachment articles against Biden, the attorney general, the FBI director, the secretary of Homeland Security and the U.S. attorney in Washington... The U.S. House of Recriminations is now in session."

In New York Magazine, Ed Kilgore said Boebert failed to impeach Biden but "succeeded in embarrassing the GOP."

"At a time when Speaker Kevin McCarthy is trying to build a case for voters to eject Joe Biden and other Democrats at the ballot box next year, his excitable troops keep breaking ranks and cutting wild capers publicly. The latest incident involves a subject so inflammatory that it has drawn an embarrassing amount of attention: Lauren Boebert’s resolution to impeach Biden, without hearings, over his handling of immigration policy and the situation at the southern border," Kilgore wrote. Boebert tried to use a privileged resolution on the floor for the vote.

"This was embarrassing for McCarthy, as Boebert’s resolution (1) had no chance of passage given the House GOP’s extremely narrow margin of control and (2) circumvented the 'regular order' that Republicans are supposed to revere and that Democrats observed when impeaching Donald Trump twice," Kilgore said. "Boebert’s resolution dispensed with formalities like Judiciary Committee hearings with witnesses, debates, and solemn votes, and just cut to the chase with a floor vote to send Biden to a Senate trial."

In MSNBC, Brian Tyler Cohen suggested the real reason why Greene and Boebert were fighting.

"Both Boebert and Greene want the credit for forcing an impeachment vote against Biden — an impeachment vote that will go nowhere, is completely baseless and puts on full display the extent to which the GOP is composed of woefully unserious people,” Cohen said. “The reason these lawmakers each want to be first is twofold.. First, so that they can use the stunt to promote their brands, because why else would Greene and Boebert secure jobs to serve others when they can leverage those jobs to serve themselves? And second, because all of this is ultimately a fundraising ploy."

Whoever goes first “can then exploit that feat with the inevitable pitch to their supporters: I stood up for you and introduced articles of impeachment against socialist communist Marxist Joe Biden. Help me continue to hold him accountable by donating to my campaign today. The email practically writes itself,” Cohen wrote. “This isn’t about getting anything done, it’s about selling a narrative to the marks. So long as Greene and Boebert can squeeze some money out of the suckers on their mailing lists, they’ll have accomplished their goal.”

My take.

Reminder: "My take" is a section where I give myself space to share my own personal opinion. If you have feedback, criticism, or compliments, don't unsubscribe. Write in by replying to this email, or leave a comment.

  • I just got done celebrating the House Freedom Caucus and far-right Republicans for wresting power back from leadership.
  • Now, they do this... which is embarrassing.
  • There is no reason to mince words.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an entire "my take" defending the way the House Freedom Caucus and some far-right members had wrested power back from party leadership.

In that piece, I argued that basically everything about what had happened was actually good. Party leadership has too much control, and if representatives are making Congress function from the bottom up — creating unpredictability, forcing tough votes and new coalitions, and exercising more leverage to represent the priorities of their constituents — that would be great.

Two weeks later, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) is making me eat my words.

I'm tempted to make some obvious points to soften my opinion here. Like, for instance, that the border that Biden is responsible for enforcing has been a disaster and Republicans like Boebert have a right to be angered. I'll even grant that the investigations into Hunter Biden and the Biden family may have some teeth after all. Or, perhaps, you want to make the argument that Biden is reaching a point where he is no longer fit for the job, an argument I'm open to.

But there isn’t any logic generous enough to say those grievances validate impeachment over the border situation. There is no reason to soften the point: This is dumb. It's an absurdity. And it's another reminder of why neither Boebert or Greene are taken seriously by so many people.

York's points (under "What the right is saying") about Rep. Al Green (D-TX) are all well taken. His impeachment efforts against Trump, mere months after he got elected, were essentially equivalent to these. The vote he forced a year into Trump's presidency, which got nearly a third of the Democratic conference, was an embarrassment. He literally included criticisms of Colin Kaepernick in his calls for impeachment. And if Tangle had existed at the time, I would have used this section to excoriate Green for the absurdity of that vote, too. 

But this isn't just embarrassing for Boebert and Greene as they fight like teenagers on the House floor and call each other nasty words to the press. It's also distracting and bad politics for Republicans generally. Democrats spent months building their first case for impeachment against Trump. They had witnesses, votes, evidence, whistleblowers — all of it. And it was still barely popular.

Boebert is impeaching Biden for immigration policy, something — as a member of the House — she is partly in control of. She could, quite literally, have spent the time she used to draft articles of impeachment on an actual piece of legislation she thinks could have garnered enough Democratic and Republican votes to address the problem — even a sliver of the problem, or even just pretend to address it. But she does this instead.

And voters know better. That's why in her dark red district, Boebert just barely eked out a victory over a Democrat by a few hundred votes. And that was after redistricting made her district even more conservative. That was less than a year ago. Does Boebert suppose impeaching Biden is something her constituents really want? Is she representing the will of a district evenly split on her representation by introducing articles of impeachment? Is she doing anything at all for the people in Colorado's 3rd district?

It sure doesn't seem like it. As Majorie Taylor Greene pointed out, the reason for Boebert's push isn't that complicated:

"It’s purely for fundraising," Greene told Semafor. "It's throwing out red meat so that people will donate to her campaign because she's coming up on the end of the month, and she's trying to produce good fundraising numbers."

Of course, the irony of that quote is that it could apply to plenty of Greene's actions, too. In that regard, these two might be made for each other. But I sure wish they'd spend their time on something a bit more realistic. Or, dare I say it, a bit more helpful.

Your questions, answered.

Q: Your responses to reader questions usually seem pretty measured and calm. Is that something that comes naturally to you, or is it something you have to work at? Like if you get yet another criticism of secretly being overly liberal or conservative, is your immediate response to clap back, or are you kinda zen about the whole thing?

— Hillary from Rapid City, South Dakota

Tangle: Well, I certainly appreciate you saying that! Do I seem zen today? I feel a little worked up.

In all seriousness, doing this work for so long has definitely given me a measure of calm, and I've learned to let things roll off my back. I wasn’t always like that, but I think it's the only way to do this work well. I learned this partly by working in the breaking news business. There are so many stories that create hysterical, over-the-top reactions when they first break, and I've found that things usually aren't as bad as they initially seem. So I learned to slow-roll my own reaction, wait for more information, and to take a breath before tweeting or writing. 

I think I've learned to do that with readers, too. I’ve learned to expect people hurling accusations or frustrations (having two older brothers also helped me learn how to deal with provocation). For instance, on Tuesday, I took a measured tone about John Durham's testimony before Congress. Yesterday, I wrote very strongly in favor of the Supreme Court's decision to rebuke the independent state legislature theory. Today, I harshly criticized two Republican members of Congress. So naturally, I expect that this week I'm going to lose some conservative readers and get accused of being a liberal (or worse!).

And sure, I could be snarky and "clap back" by pointing out that I'm simply taking Durham at his word and not buying into either partisan narrative, or that it was a conservative Supreme Court that delivered the ruling I support, or that Greene and Boebert are also loathed by many Republicans. But it's better to just say: This is my opinion, I'm being honest with you, here is why I think what I think. I've found that approach to be a lot more effective.

And, frankly, it's a lot healthier. Earlier this month, I was defending RFK Jr.'s right to debate vaccines and showering the House Freedom Caucus with praise, which I know cost me some liberal support. Ultimately, just like “my take,” my responses to reader questions aren’t supposed to be the final word, just a representation of my view. All I can do is hope that the folks who stick around end up seeing the value in this work and respecting my attempts at fairness and open-mindedness.

Want to have a question answered in the newsletter? You can reply to this email (it goes straight to my inbox) or fill out this form.

One more time...

Every month, we set a goal for new Tangle paying subscribers. This month, we're struggling, which is unusual: We've hit just 37% of our goal (thank you to everyone who helped yesterday!) and we're 93% of our way through the month. Because we keep the vast majority of our content free for everyone, we have to remind readers that the only way we can keep this project going — and keep building our team — is with new paying subscribers. Given that we're short of our goal, I'm throwing this request out there:

Thank you!

Under the radar.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said there will be no elections until the war in Ukraine is over. Zelensky made the comments during an interview with BBC, explaining that the Ukrainian constitution does not allow elections when martial law is declared – and that the country is currently under martial law because of the war. Parliamentary elections are supposed to be held in 2023, and presidential elections are scheduled for 2024. However, suspending elections drew criticism from some political commentators, including those who say the move undermines claims that Ukraine is a democracy. Tucker Carlson challenged Zelensky to "prove" Ukraine was a democracy, while Bradley Devlin and Glenn Greenwald both criticized the announcement. Some polling suggests roughly 77% of Ukrainians want Zelensky to remain president. 


  • 2.2 million. The record number of arrests by U.S. Border Patrol on the southern border last year.
  • 70%. Of those arrests, the percentage that was of single adults, many of whom were repeat offenders.
  • 70%. The percentage of Americans who believed Trump's request to Ukraine's president to investigate Biden was wrong, according to a 2019 poll.
  • 51%. The percentage of Americans who believed those actions were cause for him to be impeached and removed from office.
  • 34%. The percentage of respondents who said the GOP should impeach Biden if they retake the House, according to a University of Massachusetts Amherst poll from May of 2022.
  • 546. The total number of votes by which Lauren Boebert won re-election in the 2022 race.

The extras.

  • One year ago today we wrote about Biden and Saudi Arabia.
  • The most clicked link in yesterday's newsletter was the trick cow.
  • It's baloney: We asked Tangle readers for their thoughts on the independent state legislature theory, and the vast majority agree: 83% are opposed to the theory, 7% are somewhat opposed, 3% are somewhat in favor, and another 3% are in favor. 4% said they were unsure or had no opinion.
  • Nothing to do with politics: The frustratingly fun 'choose a password' game.
  • Take the poll. What do you think of Lauren Boebert's articles of impeachment against Joe Biden? Let us know!

Have a nice day.

A concert director in Los Angeles is composing a solution to an increasing problem in American society: a lack of generational connection. Through The Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) Eisner Intergenerational Orchestra, Daniel Suk is providing opportunities for senior, middle-aged, and young musicians to connect through a shared love of music. Together, orchestra members discuss classic novels, graphic novels, how to use the orchestra's communication app, and (most of all) music. Gerson Galdamez, a 27-year-old with a doctorate in gerontology, joined the orchestra because he has seen how playing music helps form bonds between people from different generations. “The arts are really the way to do it,” Galdamez said, calling the orchestra “a canvas for connections.” The Los Angeles Times has the story.

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Isaac Saul
I'm a politics reporter who grew up in Bucks County, PA — one of the most politically divided counties in America. I'm trying to fix the way we consume political news.