Hard-right House lawmakers oppose Obama impeachment
By Peter Schroeder - 07/09/14 08:32 PM EDT
Staunch House conservatives are quashing calls for President Obama’s impeachment.
They argue an impeachment trial would be a doomed effort, with a Democratic Senate, that could hurt Republicans in the midterm elections.
Their efforts are providing cover and support to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other party leaders who have sought to contain the chatter for impeachment.
Boehner, who on Wednesday said he disagreed with calls for Obama’s impeachment, has said the House will vote this month on legislation to bring a lawsuit against Obama over his use of executive actions.
“Harry Reid’s [D-Nev.] going to block anything we do in that regard,” said Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), a dyed-in-the-wool conservative who in February said he would vote to impeach Obama.
“We’d like to do more, the problem is the avenues are just not available,” said Rep. John Fleming (R-La.). “Even if impeachment was to pass in the House, it wouldn’t remove the president from office.
“It’s one of those things that if you can’t see an end solution, why even get into that debate?” Fleming said.
Talk of impeaching Obama has been stirred up by several conservative voices outside Congress.
Sarah Palin, the GOP’s vice presidential candidate in 2008, on Tuesday said Obama should be impeached because of the immigration crisis at the border. She lambasted Boehner’s proposal to sue Obama, arguing Republicans who backed the plan lacked the “cajones” for impeachment.
RedState.com’s Erick Erickson similarly wrote that the lawsuit was “political theater” and called for Boehner to “man up” and take tougher action against the president.
The Drudge Report also stirred impeachment sentiment with a poll inviting Website visitors to vote on whether Obama should be impeached. Predictably, sentiment at the conservative site showed more than 70 percent backed impeachment.
Other voices in the Republican Party have pushed back at calls for impeachment, including conservative commentator Pat Buchanan.
Within the House, many conservative Republicans say they have a strong case for Obama’s impeachment. Their reason for not pursuing it is that it would be a futile effort that could blow up in their faces.
“There are a number of colleagues that would like to see an impeachment proceeding go forward against the president,” said Broun. “I’m not sure our leadership would allow that to happen ... we’ve got to focus on what we can do.”
Over the years, several Republican lawmakers have suggested impeaching Obama, or at least sounded open to the idea on a range of issues, including immigration and the Benghazi attacks.
In November, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) sent a book outlining the case for impeaching Obama to all congressional offices. And in June, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) said the House “probably” has the votes to impeach Obama, although he said he opposed impeachment himself and noted public opposition to the idea.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who has said he is a personal friend of the president, said in August that Obama was “perilously close” to committing impeachable offenses. That same month, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) said there likely was enough support in the House to impeach Obama.
Republicans seeking to tamp down the talk are reminding their colleagues of the House vote on former President Clinton’s impeachment, which backfired badly on Republicans.
Republicans ended up losing seats in the 1998 midterm election, something that rarely happens in such a political cycle for the party that does not control the White House, as the attempted impeachment made headlines and Democrats talked of GOP overreach.
Democrats believe the new round of impeachment talk is good for their party, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee cited Palin’s comments in a fundraising email sent Tuesday, calling her comments and the lawsuit “ugly attacks on President Obama’s legitimacy.”
Boehner signaled his wariness of the talk with his comments on Wednesday, in which he twice said he disagreed with calls for impeachment.
Separately, Iowa GOP Senate candidate Joni Ernst disavowed comments she’d made in January that seemed to back impeachment.
“To be clear, I have not seen any evidence that the president should be impeached,” Ernst said in a statement released Tuesday.
Republicans have high hopes that Ernst can win the retiring Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D) seat in Iowa, a state Obama carried in the presidential elections of 2008 and 2012.
Leadership allies within the House acknowledge there are many lawmakers like Broun who would like to see Obama impeached.
“Yeah, there are a few guys talking about that,” said Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-La.), a leadership ally who is not shy of criticizing the House GOP’s right flank.
He insisted the lawsuit — not impeachment — would be the best way to channel conservative anger at Obama, and added that trying to throw out Obama would not only be ineffective but would distract the party months before the midterm elections.
“If somebody were to file impeachment proceedings — well, the fact is we know that’s going nowhere in the Senate,” he said. “And it’s going to be a major, major distraction from actually getting results, which means rolling back some of his power relative to Congress.”
When Boehner announced the lawsuit, he said: “This is not about impeachment.
“This is about his faithfully executing the laws of our country,” he said.
— Bernie Becker contributed to this story.
This story was posted at 2:23 p.m. and updated at 8:30 p.m.