Former President Donald Trump is the only president in history to have been impeached twice. The number of presidents impeached was already a small number, with only two prior to Mr. Trump. In fact, the former president doubled the number of presidential impeachments after he attempted to shake down Ukraine for dirt on President Joe Biden and incited a riot at the United States Capitol after losing the 2020 election.
Writing Thursday, Rachel Maddow producer Steve Benen wondered why Republicans would be so focused on "expunging" Trump's second impeachment if he wasn't even convicted by the Republicans in the Senate. But the reason comes from the man himself.
"Should they expunge the impeachment in the House?" Trump asked rhetorically after Republicans blocked attempts to call witnesses in the trial and voted to end it without conviction.
It's worth noting that an impeachment can't be "expunged." It's not a criminal proceeding and it's already part of the public record. Even if Republicans wanted to vote to eliminate it from the public record, their actions of eliminating it would be recorded in the public record.
Trump's impeachment was passed by Congress, and if something is passed by Congress it can't be un-passed years after the fact. They could pass something saying they don't agree with it, declare the future Congress believes it was wrong, or even pass laws that attempt to change the articles of the Constitution that regulate impeachment.
Still, far-right Republicans jumped to deliver his demands.
Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate, proposed a resolution that would declare Trump’s first impeachment "expunged." The bill only got eight cosponsors.
This week, Mullin introduced legislation to "expunge" Trump's second impeachment. Given that it's an election year, people were clamoring to join. The Fox network reported that more than two dozen Republicans signed on, including GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and GOP Conference Vice-Chair Mike Johnson. Stefanik was once what Benen called a relative moderate who refused to even say Trump's name. After taking a leadership position, however, that changed.
"Stefanik’s justification is itself bizarre," wrote Benen. "Democrats held Trump accountable to advance their political agenda? The second impeachment was on Jan. 13, 2021 — a week before Democrats took control of both the White House and both chambers of Congress. Whether the then-president was impeached or not had literally no bearing on Democratic governing."
Secondly, Benen explained that for Stefanik to describe the second impeachment as a purely partisan exercise is factually inaccurate and inconsistent with the congressional record she hopes to "expunge."
Ten House Republicans supported the impeachment, making it the most bipartisan impeachment in American history. What's more, seven Senate Republicans voted in favor of convicting him.
Benen closed by noting that in a Democratic-led House it's hard to see a bill like this ever passing, but if the GOP takes over, it could become a top priority in their agenda.