GOP senator says Obama 'close' to impeachment. True?
The potential impeachment of President Obama has been a topic at a number of home-state meetings held by GOP lawmakers this month. Sen. Tom Coburn is the latest to discuss the possibility.
Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.
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On Wednesday, Senator Coburn told a meeting of 300 constituents in Muskogee, Okla., that the Obama administration is “lawless” and that Mr. Obama himself is “getting perilously close” to the constitutional standard for impeachment.
“I quite frankly think he’s in a difficult position he’s put himself in, and if it continues, I think we’re going to have another constitutional crisis in our country in terms of the presidency,” Coburn said.
Impeachment has been a topic at a number of Republican lawmaker home-state meetings this month. Asked about the possibility of impeaching the president, Sen. Ted Cruz (R) of Texas this week answered, “That’s a good question.”
Earlier in the month, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R) of Texas said, “If we were to impeach the president tomorrow, we would probably get the votes in the House of Representatives to do it.” In Michigan, Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R) said that “it would be a dream come true” to file impeachment charges against Obama but that right now, he does not have enough evidence to do so.
Wow – so will Republicans in Congress reconvene this fall and begin a serious attempt to remove the president from office?
No. No, they won’t. You figured that was the answer here, right?
Partly that’s because some of the Republicans who have mentioned it may just be trying to appease their audience. In open forums, GOP lawmakers continue to get constituent questions dealing with the discredited notion that Obama was born in Kenya. A pivot to notional impeachment talk is one way to handle these queries.
“Don’t take any of this too seriously,” noted Allahpundit on the right-leaning Hot Air website.
If you look at a video of his comments, you’ll see that “Farenthold’s not floating impeachment,” Allahpundit wrote. “He’s just trying to make a Birther go away. This is his way of appeasing her.”
But the main reason impeachment talk is just talk is because the GOP leadership does not really believe the evidence regarding Benghazi, the IRS targeting of tea party groups, and the failed "Fast and Furious" gunrunning effort shows impeachable offenses.
Even if the House impeached the president, the Democratic-controlled Senate would never vote to remove him from office. And if the House began impeachment proceedings prior to the approaching midterm elections, voters might revolt, former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele noted earlier this month.
Representative Farenthold is “flat wrong” about sentiment in the House for impeachment, Mr. Steele said on MSNBC’s “Hardball.” He added that public talk about impeachment by GOP lawmakers was “asinine.”
“If you really want to give away the House, go ahead, start impeachment. Because the fact of the matter is ... the public as a whole would repel against that so much that it wouldn’t even be funny,” Steele said.
Republicans probably would not try to impeach Obama even if they retake the Senate in 2014. Senator Cruz, for instance, has said that he would not go down the impeachment road under those circumstances.
“I think we should focus on fights that would make a difference, restoring economic growth and opportunity, and fights that we have a realistic prospect of winning,” Cruz told Katrina Trinko of the right-leaning National Review.
As to impeachment, “that’s not a fight we have a prospect of winning,” Cruz said.
The chances of a “spurious” impeachment of Obama now appear low, wrote left-leaning blogger Jonathan Bernstein earlier this year.
Mr. Bernstein had long predicted that the GOP-controlled House would mount an impeachment attempt. With the passage of time, he now believes that the House leadership appears to have learned from the impeachment of President Clinton that such proceedings help the president and hurt the pro-impeachment party.
“... I think the final word on this is likely to be [Speaker] John Boehner’s demonstrated ability in guiding House Republicans past their worst self-destructive instincts,” wrote Bernstein.