Right-wing media have spun the latest indictment of former President Donald Trump into an opportunity to baselessly call for President Joe Biden’s impeachment — with Fox News host Jesse Watters driving the narrative.
The indictment regarding Trump’s alleged criminal actions after the 2020 election, which was handed down on August 1, has sent right-wing media into a spiral as they defend the former president. Criticisms of the indictment range from questions over the legality of Jack Smith’s role as special counsel to claims that the charges criminalize free speech to comparisons of the charges to legal systems in “communist and Nazi countries.” The claims from right-wing media and politicians contradict those from legal experts, who report that the legal reasoning behind the charges against Trump is sound.
As Trump faces felony charges from three separate indictments, some House Republicans and members of the Freedom Caucus have presented impeachment articles against Biden. For months, right-wing media have laid the groundwork for Biden impeachment calls, despite little evidence to back their claims, and now Watters and others in right-wing media have been using the latest Trump indictment to move forward with impeachment "to run counter to the Trump trials next year.”
Watters has repeatedly urged Republicans to “fast-track” an impeachment inquiry into Biden to counterprogram Trump trials next year
- The night Trump was indicted, Watters urged Republicans to “fast-track this impeachment inquiry … because once you got all these Trump trials next year, an election year, that's all the media is going to cover.” Watters declared: “There is a window where Republicans have to exploit. These Trump trials aren’t going to be until next year. They got to get back from vacation in mid-September, and they have to fast-track this impeachment inquiry. Because they have the impeachment itself, and get that moved into 2024. Because once you got all these Trump trials next year, an election year, that's all the media is going to cover. And they're not going to cover anything about Joe Biden. You got to squeeze us in now. It’s that important.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 8/1/23]
- On the August 2 edition of The Five, Watters instructed Republicans to use impeachment as a political stunt to distract from Trump’s multiple trials. He said: “What the Republicans need to do is time the impeachment because that's the main draw. And if you put up impeachment with the Trump trials, I don't think the Democrats want to stomach that.” [Fox News, The Five, 8/2/23]
- The same day, Watters again urged House Republicans to speed up their impeachment inquiry so that an impeachment trial of Biden can “run counter to the Trump trials next year … you have to put something against the Trump Trials in the spring.” Watters explained: “There's no way Biden is going to survive a full-blown House impeachment. … It lasts months, all of this evidence is on the table, Democrats and the media forced to engage on it. But if Joe wants to roll the dice, Republicans move with impeachment. But without the impeachment, you have back-to-back-to-back-to-back Trump trials. The media’s not going to cover anything else. Biden’s going to hide and Trump is going to be criminalized on TV. But if Republicans time this right and follow the evidence where it leads, impeachment is going to run counter to the Trump trials next year.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 8/2/23]
Other right-wing media figures used Trump’s indictment to beg the GOP to launch impeachment proceedings against Biden
- Daily Wire host Michael Knowles declared, “We just got to impeach” Biden, adding, “We need to impeach these people before they imprison us.” Knowles continued: “I don’t know what other evidence of what other crimes we could possibly get. I don’t know how the political situation in this country could deteriorate any more. They’re trying to put Donald Trump in prison for over 500 years and potentially execute him. What are we waiting for? … We need to impeach these people before they imprison us.” [Daily Wire, Michael Knowles Show, 8/3/23]
- On Fox & Friends, pro-Trump lawyer Mike Davis declared that “House Republicans must move forward immediately with impeachment.” Asked by co-host Brian Kilmeade if the indictment was because Democrats are trying to “do everything constitutionally to stop him from becoming president again,” Davis claimed: “That is absolutely what's happening here. It's being driven by President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland. And this is why House Republicans must move forward immediately with impeachment. President Biden is clearly corrupt. He is clearly compromised as the president of the United States and Attorney General Merrick Garland is clearly covering up for his boss.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/3/23]
- The Federalist published an article titled “Republicans Who Don’t Impeach Biden And His DOJ Cronies Now Are Part Of The Partisan Prosecution Problem.” The article argued that “the first round of sham charges against Trump should have prompted a swift and sound impeachment campaign against key players like President Joe Biden,” and asserted that “the latest round of unconstitutional charges from Biden’s Department of Justice against former President Donald Trump warrants a severe smackdown from the other branches of government.” [The Federalist, 8/2/23]
- When the indictment was announced, Fox News contributor Leo Terell used social media to call for Republicans to impeach Biden. Terell posted, “PLAY HARDBALL WITH DEMOCRATS: IMPEACH JOE BIDEN NOW!” [Twitter/X, 8/1/23]