Is Impeaching Trump Really About Kneecapping Joe Biden?

When Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "When you strike at a king, you must kill him," he probably wasn't thinking of impeachment. But politically speaking, the stakes are pretty much the same whether you try to murder a monarch or remove a president from office.

Just ask Newt Gingrich, who found himself the victim of a putsch within his own party after his impeachment of Bill Clinton died in the Senate. Had Gingrich claimed Clinton's scalp, do you doubt he'd have likely remained Speaker for as long as he might have wanted?

Suppose however the target of Congress's impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump isn't actually President Donald Trump. Stick a pin in that thought for just a moment, because first we have to look at an impeachment effort which so far is actually less than it appears.

The true nature of the investigation came into question on Tuesday evening, within an hour of Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing her official inquiry. POLITICO's Andrew Desiderio noticed almost at once that there is less to the announcement than meets the eye.

NPR's Tim Mak noticed, too.

Make no mistake: This is a risky game the Democrats are playing. On the one hand, their most energetic voters practically demand Trump's immediate removal. On the other hand, most voters are apathetic at best to the idea of impeachment, and will probably turn against it quite sharply if yet another investigation fails to reveal enough dirt on Trump. But as I wrote at Instapundit earlier today, maybe the only thing worse to the Democrats’ kamikaze wing than not going ahead with an impeachment inquiry would be an unsuccessful one.

But for some Democrats, that might be a risk worth taking. So let's go back to our earlier thought, courtesy of GMU law prof David Bernstein.

The payoff here for "some very powerful Democrats" -- and it wouldn't be prudent to point fingers at anyone in particular -- might be well worth the risk. Weaken Trump and force Biden out of the race, probably before Iowa? You can picture a particular presidential candidate or three saying "Deeeeeeliiiiiicious" in their best Dr. Evil voice.

Before you think this is all too far-fetched, sure enough, one of the first news items to pop up after Pelosi's need conference concerned... Joe Biden.

Marc Thiessen writes:

It got almost no attention, but in May, CNN reported that Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) wrote a letter to Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko, expressing concern at the closing of four investigations they said were critical to the Mueller probe. In the letter, they implied that their support for U.S. assistance to Ukraine was at stake. Describing themselves as “strong advocates for a robust and close relationship with Ukraine,” the Democratic senators declared, “We have supported [the] capacity-building process and are disappointed that some in Kyiv appear to have cast aside these [democratic] principles to avoid the ire of President Trump,” before demanding Lutsenko “reverse course and halt any efforts to impede cooperation with this important investigation.”

So, it’s okay for Democratic senators to encourage Ukraine to investigate Trump, but it’s not okay for the president to allegedly encourage Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden?

That's a snarky question, but a fair one. It's also fair to ask if, absent an impeachment push especially concerning Ukraine dealings, we'd have noticed this:

Do the Clintons have it in for Biden? It's impossible to keep perfect notes on the mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up ClintonWorld... so I guess it's possible there's someone they'd very much rather get the Dem nomination than Slow Joe.

The predictions markets noticed the subtleties, too:

I'm no conspiracy theorist, but there's compelling (not convincing, yet, but merely compelling) evidence that some big-name Dems might be using their own House majority and the news media to force a front-running presidential candidate out of the race. All under the "patriotic" guise of bringing down Trump.

And you thought Hillary cheated hard against Sanders in 2016? Well, she did -- but not anywhere near the level we might be seeing right now.

Even if we apply Occam's Razor to the facts we know for sure, there's almost zero chance Biden emerges from the Democrats' own investigation unscathed.

How will it shake out? Is there really a genius Dem mastermind, or some sinister cabal, pulling the strings to rig the nominee? If you had asked me a few years ago whether such a thing were even possible, I'd have said probably not. Today all I can say is...

Stay tuned.