GOP, McCarthy on collision course over expunging Trump’s impeachments

July 25, 2023

House Republicans increasingly find themselves on a collision course over efforts to expunge the impeachments of former President Donald Trump—a battle that pits hardline conservatives who are pressing for a vote against moderates who already are warning GOP leaders that they’ll reject it, reports The Hill.

The promised opposition from centrist Republicans all but ensures that the resolutions would fail if they hit the floor. And it puts Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) in a no-win situation.

If he doesn’t stage the vote, he risks the ire of Trump and his allies. If he does, the measures would be shot down—validating Trump’s impeachments just as his legal troubles are piling up.

The issue is just the latest in a long string of debates challenging McCarthy’s ability to keep his conference united while Trump—the GOP’s presidential front-runner who’s also facing two criminal indictments—hovers in the background.

The expungement concept is hardly new. A group of House Republicans—including Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (New York)—introduced legislation last month designed to erase Trump’s impeachments from the historical record.

But the debate reached new heights last week, when Politico reported that McCarthy—after suggesting publicly that Trump is not the strongest contender for the GOP presidential nomination—raced to make amends, in part by promising to vote on expungement before the end of September.

McCarthy has denied he ever made such a promise. But the denial only magnified the issue in the public eye—and amplified the conservative calls for the Speaker to bring the measure for a vote. 

“It should definitely come to the floor and be expunged,” said Representative Byron Donalds (R-Florida), a member of the Freedom Caucus and vocal Trump ally.

“I’m hoping to see it get done before August recess,” Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) a lead sponsor of one of the resolutions, told reporters, later adding that “these are impeachments that should’ve never happened, and so we would like to expunge them.”

The expungement push is anathema to many moderate Republicans—particularly those facing tough reelections in competitive districts, who are treading carefully not to link themselves too closely with Trump.

Some of those lawmakers are already vowing to vote against the measure if it hits the floor—all but guaranteeing its failure given the Republicans’ narrow House majority—and some of them are proactively reaching out to GOP leaders to warn them against staging such a vote.

“I have every expectation I’ll vote against expungement, and I have every expectation that I will work to bring others with me,” said one moderate Republican; who requested anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic, noting “I think my views represent a fair number of principled conservatives.”

“We can’t change history. I mean, that impeachment vote happened. And I just don’t think we should be engaged in the kind of cancel culture that tries to whitewash history.”

 Research contact: @thehill