GOP Congressman Andy Biggs—A Judiciary Committee Member “Hot Under the Collar” in Defense of Demagogue Donald December 8, 2019
There’s a saying among trial lawyers—“When you have the facts, argue the facts. When you have the law, argue the law. When you have neither the facts nor the law, pound the table and yell.” The House judiciary Committee is, of course, not an actual courtroom trying civil and criminal cases. However, both the majority Democrats and minority Republicans are presently arguing before a politically “y uu ge” jury of millions, the American people. Democrats and GOPers are arguing over whether Demagogue Donald should be impeached. Why? There is evidence that Donald deliberately held up $391 million in aid Congress voted to give Ukraine, which is currently in a rough fight with Russia. For Ukraine to get this desperately needed aid, it would have to publicly state that it would open up an investigation of corruption into Joe Biden, a leading Democratic presidential candidate running against Trump in 2020, as well as Biden’s son Hunter. There is no evidence whatsoever that the Bidens were involved in corruption.
And this evidence of Trump’s blackmailing Ukraine for his own political benefit is overwhelming. It was first noted in an anonymous whistleblower’s complaint. That whistleblower was told that many National Security Council (NSC) staffers heard these comments by Trump to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25, 2019 telephone call. NSC staffers, an ambassador, and Trump political appointees testified in recent hearings during a two-month investigation before the House Intelligence Committee that Donald did commit a quid pro quo, a “this for a that.” Trump held up aid to Ukraine unless that country would announce that it planned to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. They also testified that Ukrainian President Zelensky would only get a coveted White House meeting in D.C. with Donald if Zelensky announced this investigation into the Bidens (See Katyal, N. “Impeach, The Case Against Donald Trump,” 2019). On 12/03/2019, the House Intelligence Committee, headed by Cong. Adam Schiff (D-CA) submitted to the House Judiciary Committee a 300-page report. This report stated that Trump abused his office by pressuring Ukraine to help him with the 2020 presidential election. The Intelligence Committee report additionally concluded that Trump abused his office by trying to conceal/cover up his actions from Congress (nytimes.com, Fandos & Shear, 12/04/19). The GOP submitted dissenting views that rejected any wrongdoing (nytimes, 12/04/19). IMHO, the GOP’s “report” read like a repeat of Donald’s “alternative facts’” talking points. In all the committee hearings, the GOP’s “defense” of Donald consists of pounding tables and yelling.
On 12/04/2019, the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Cong. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), started public hearings into whether Demagogue Donald should be impeached. If this committee decides to impeach Trump, it will write the Articles of Impeachment. The Judiciary Committee members will then vote on them in their committee. Should one or more of these Articles pass by a majority vote, the full House floor will vote on them. If one or more of these Articles of Impeachment pass by majority vote on the House floor, Trump will be impeached. His trial on these Articles will be held in the Senate where a vote of two-thirds of the Senators present will be necessary for his conviction and removal from office (U.S. Const. Art. I, Sec. 3). The House Judiciary Committee will write these Articles of Impeachment if they find, as the U.S. Constitution requires, evidence that Trump was involved in “Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors (U.S. Const. Art. II, Sec. 4).”
There is tremendous political polarization among Democrats and Republicans both in the country and in Congress. Prior to the start of the Judiciary Committee hearings, VP Pence told his fellow GOPers to “Turn up the heat on House Democrats (Fandos & Shear, nytimes.com, 12/04/19).” Pence was preaching to his “political choir.” The House Judiciary Committee’s membership is far larger than the Intelligence Committee, 41 members v. 22 (116th Cong. At Your Fingertips). The Judiciary Committee includes some of the most partisan Democrats and Republicans in Congress. On the Judiciary GOP’s side are some of Donald’s most zealous allies and supporters. These include TX’s Louie Gohmert and John Ratcliffe, as well as FL’s Matt Gaetz. OH’s Jim Jordan, who was briefly moved to the Intelligence Committee during its public hearings, also sits on Judiciary. The top/ranking GOP Judiciary member, GA’s Doug Collins, is a Trump loyalist who speaks like an auctioneer hawking a hot product (latimes.com, Haberkorn, 12/03/19). Another off-the-charts Trump defender on Judiciary is Cong. Andy Biggs. On a recent “Fox News Sunday” appearance, Biggs called the House Judiciary Committee “a bunch of brawlers, so it should get pretty, pretty hot under the collar as we go along.” He falsely argued that Democrats had not adhered to precedent on impeachment, a view that “causes some rancor. And it should get more feisty, I would say, than the Intel Committee was (latimes.com, Haberkorn, 12/03/19).” GOPers are expected to be more aggressive than they were in the Intelligence Committee hearings. Chairman Nadler is known to be more volatile than the unflappable Schiff, and “Team Red” will try to knock Nadler off his game by forcing votes on procedural hurdles and hammering its defense of Donald more (latimes.com, 12/03/19). Right from the beginning, Cong. Biggs showed himself to be one of those “hot under the collar brawlers.” Biggs was called a prominent House GOPer who made “an early mark” by trying to argue what rules of evidence the Judiciary Committee should apply. Even though his motion failed, GOPers felt he helped establish their “view” that the impeachment process was “unfair and unclear” and helped delay the hearings (azcentral.com, Hansen, 12/04/19). Biggs additionally accused distinguished Stanford Law Professor witness Pamela Karlan of having a “visceral antagonism towards the President” and making “false analogies (azcentral.com, USA Today, Hayes & Wu, 12/04/19).” In further rounds of questioning, Cong. Biggs attacked the other witnesses, also constitutional law professors, who were trying to explain the U.S. Constitution’s definition of impeachment. Biggs did his best not to allow them to talk much (dailykos.com/stories, 12/04/19, Sumner). Who is this Cong. Biggs?
Second-term GOP Congressman Andrew Steven Biggs (61) currently represents Arizona’s 5th Congressional District (CD). The AZ 5th is made up of Phoenix’s East Valley suburbs including Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, and Queen Creek. Mesa is Maricopa County’s second-largest city, after Phoenix. Mesa was founded by Mormons in 1878 and is the site of an LDS temple. Mesa has grown from 17,000 people in 1950 to 496,000 in 2017. The Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport is located in Mesa and is serviced by five passenger airlines. Chandler is nicknamed “Silicon Desert,” and has become one of the fastest growing tech centers in the country. Intel, AZ’s largest employer, maintains a 1.3 million-square foot data center in Mesa. The 5th CD has AZ’s highest median income, though this district’s cultural tone remains strongly middle class. Senior citizens live in the area. The Mormon and senior citizens’ presence makes the 5th CD “blood Red.” The most recent Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) stands at R+15. In 2012, Mormon Romney won 64% of the vote, while Donald comfortably took this district in 2016 with 56% of the vote (Cohen & Cook 2020 Political Almanac).
Tucson, AZ native Andy Biggs received his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University (BYU), a Master’s degree from Arizona State University (ASU), and a law degree from the University of Arizona. In 1993, Biggs won $10 million from the Publisher’s Clearing House lottery sweepstakes. After practicing law in Phoenix and Gilbert, Biggs was elected to the AZ State House where he served for eight years (2003-2011). He won election to the AZ State Senate in 2010 and served there from 2011-2016. He was State Senate Majority Leader from 2011-2012 and State Senate President from 2013-2016. Biggs was a hardliner on illegal immigration and a conservative icon. He won recognition and awards from the Koch Industries Americans for Prosperity AZ Chapter, the Goldwater Institute, and the American Conservative Union. When AZ GOP Cong. Matt Salmon announced his retirement, Biggs entered a four-candidate GOP primary to succeed him in 2016. Although Biggs spent $1 million of his own fortune and $560,000 from the right-wing Club for Growth, he eked out a 27- vote win in the all-important GOP primary. The general election in this “Red” turf was a formality. Biggs clobbered his Democratic rival by a 28% margin. He coasted to re-election in 2018 with an 18% margin, the best showing of the three Phoenix-area House GOPers. In 2016, right wing Koch Industries gave Biggs $5, 000 and in 2018 contributed $10,000 (opensecrets.org, sourcewatch.org).
We should not be surprised that two-term Cong. Biggs has quickly made his anti-impeachment mark in the Judiciary Committee. He has already “distinguished” himself in the general House, especially among his fellow GOPers. In 10/2019, in just his second term, Cong. Biggs was elected to chair the Freedom Caucus, succeeding N. Carolina’s Cong. Mark Meadows. One of the Freedom Caucus’ 2015 founders was former S. Carolina GOP Cong. Mick Mulvaney, now Donald’s Chief-of-Staff. Another founder and its first chair was OH’s GOPer Jim Jordan. Jordan, remember, now sits with Biggs on Judiciary. The Freedom Caucus is a small group of anti-government Tea Party sympathizers and is considered the furthest-right bloc within the House Republican Conference (CQ 116th Cong. At Your Fingertips, Cohen & Cook 2020, Fox, cnn.com, 3/24/17, washingtonexaminer.com, 1/26/15, Ferrechio). In the current 116th Cong., Biggs has voted with Donald 94.4% of the time (projects.fivethirtyeight.com). He ceaselessly defends Demagogue Donald from investigations of alleged wrongdoing. Biggs was an outspoken critic of former special counsel Robert Mueller. Biggs co-sponsored a resolution calling for Mueller’s removal. Like Trump, Biggs declared Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt (Cohen & Cook 2020).” On 10/23/2019, Biggs joined other GOPers in breaking into a secure House conference room that was being used to investigate whether Trump should be impeached. He used a prohibited electronic device, a cell phone there (nytimes.com, 10/23/19).
When Biggs does not vote with his fellow GOPers, it is because they have not gone far right enough. He voted against the House GOP’s 5/2017 Obamacare replacement act because it didn’t outright repeal Obamacare, which Biggs argued should be the GOP’s goal (See Cohen & Cook 2020). Mormon Biggs supports overturning Roe v. Wade and opposes abortions of any kind, including for rape, incest, or risk to the mother. He opposes same-sex marriage (KTAR.com, 5/23/18, phoenixnewtimes.com, Hendley, 3/09/12). Biggs was one of 11 House GOPers to oppose funding for the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund bill. This measure passed the House by a 402-12 vote on 7/12/19 (sourcepolitics.com).
Again, elections count. Because Democrats took back the House in 2018, they are now conducting impeachment hearings, which a GOP House would never have done. It looks like the House will have the votes to impeach Donald. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has forcefully come out in favor of the House drafting Articles of Impeachment against Trump (nytimes.com, Fandos & Stolberg, 12/05/19). Biggs can keep getting re-elected in his “ultra-Red” district. However, with House Democrats in power, he will remain part of an irrelevant minority. We must back impeachment, even if we believe that Trump’s GOP Senate majority lackeys, buying “alternative facts,” will acquit him. We must, as our Founding Fathers would have done in these circumstances, use impeachment to counter Donald’s “abuse of power for his own personal political benefit, at the expense of our national security (Pelosi speech, nytimes.com, 12/05/19).” And in 11/2020, Democrats, independents, and moderates must vote in droves to fire Donald, keep the House “Blue,” and retake the “Red”-dominated Senate.