McCarthy’s Rank Hypocrisy on Impeachment

McCarthy’s Rank Hypocrisy on Impeachment October 22, 2019

Andrew McCarthy is a former federal prosecutor turned right-wing partisan ideologue and he is proving to be every bit as shameless in his hypocrisy as Trump is. He has a new article arguing that the Trump impeachment investigation “threatens liberty” by trivializing the act of impeaching presidents. But he wrote an entire book arguing that Obama should be impeached.

In the case of President Trump, Democrats are doing what I suggested should be done with President Obama — building a political case for impeaching a president they deeply oppose. They certainly have the right to do this, yet there is a problem. I may have been right that this revival of impeachment as a credible threat is necessary (in the absence of any other realistic alternative for addressing presidential overreach), but it is also causing serious governance problems. Ignoring them would be irresponsible.

To be sure, the Democrats’ underlying rationale for impeachment is different from mine. Democrats decided Trump was unfit before he ever entered office and have been seeking any ostensibly plausible reason to vindicate this predisposition in articles of impeachment. By contrast, while I was never an Obama fan, my argument was not that he came to office as an impeachment waiting to happen; it was that, for years, he governed in a manner intentionally designed to undermine the Constitution’s structure, and that he had elevated the interests of foreign powers and actors over the interests of the American people and our security.

Those differences aside, however, we can see that relying on impeachment as the go-to response to presidential overreach — real or alleged — has manifest downsides.

Oh for crying out loud. Yes, Obama did support some unconstitutional policies and I hammered him for it (don’t get me started on the State Secrets Privilege again). But if that’s the standard, Trump deserves impeachment to the third power. He couldn’t possibly care less about constitutional limitations on his power, viewing himself as a de facto dictator with the power to do anything he wants without constraint. But McCarthy’s hypocrisy is even worse than that. Turns out he also was calling preemptively for the impeachment of Hillary Clinton before she had even been elected, exactly what he now says the Democrats have done to Trump.

As it turns out, McCarthy is not only hypocritical in his attempts to differentiate his calls for Obama’s impeachment and Democrats’ calls for Trump’s impeachment, he has also made preemptive calls in 2016 to impeach Hillary Clinton if she won the White House. As Atlanta-based attorney Andrew Fleischman noted on Twitter about two weeks ago:

In those 2016 columns, McCarthy carefully explained that grounds for impeachment are potentially quite distinct from criminal wrongdoing — when it had to do with Hillary Clinton’s email server. “The test of fitness for an office of public trust is whether an official is trustworthy, not whether she is convictable in a criminal court,” he wrote, explaining that high crimes and misdemeanors for impeachment “need not be violations of the penal code.”

But as Flesichman noted, McCarthy took a completely different line in an appearance on Fox News a month ago. “There’s a lot of feeling around even trying to articulate high crimes and misdemeanors and I think that’s relevant,” McCarthy said, arguing that past impeachments “were all triggered by either actual felony violations or allegations of concrete abuses of power that were egregious and everybody knew what they were investigating when they were launched.”

They aren’t even pretending not to be shameless hypocrites at this point. They almost wear it as a point of pride that they apply totally different standards to those they oppose politically and those they support. If McCarthy had any credibility left, it certainly ought to be gone now. But he’ll remain widely cited in the wingnutosphere.

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