Republicans in the US House of Representatives, led by Speaker Kevin McCarthy, are pursuing a formal inquiry to impeach President Joe Biden. The charges relate to business dealings by the latter’s son, Hunter Biden, and include lying about knowledge of these, misuse of high office and his “family members” having got money from shady foreign entities. So far, no hard evidence of wrongdoing has emerged. Also, his position is politically secure. Even if a simple House majority goes against him, his fellow Democrats control the Senate, where only a two-thirds majority vote can oust him from his job. Thanks to this high bar, his predecessor, Donald Trump, survived two impeachment attempts. As the White House contest in 2024 is likely to be another Biden-versus-Trump affair, perhaps the Republicans wanted the dubious-deed scales to appear less uneven. In 1998, the rap that Bill Clinton got for employing creative ambiguity in his testimony of an affair was a novelty. Today, a US impeachment is politics as usual. It’s unfortunate that the world’s most watched democracy has reduced the gravity of this tool. So long as elected autocracy is a threat, such devices are needed.
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Updated: 14 Sep 2023, 12:08 AM IST
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