WASHINGTON — Just eight months after being sworn in for a second four-year term, President Obama is the subject of impeachment talk among several Republican lawmakers.
Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, R-MI, told supporters attending a recent Birmingham/Bloomfield Republican Club meeting that forcing Obama from office less than a year after he achieved a 5 million-vote victory over GOP rival Mitt Romney would be “a dream come true.”
Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-TX, told those attending a town hall meeting in Luling that there are sufficient votes in the House of Representatives to adopt a bill of impeachment. But he noted that the Democratic-controlled Senate is unlikely to find the president guilty of any high crimes or misdemeanors as required by the U.S. Constitution.
“If we were to impeach the president tomorrow, you could probably get the votes in the House of Representatives to do it,” he said. “But it would go to the Senate, and he wouldn’t get convicted.”
Earlier this year, Rep. Steve Stockman, R-TX, threatened to seek Obama’s impeachment if he attempted to adopt stricter gun control measures through executive order.
The impeachment discussion isn’t limited to the House side. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, who presents himself as a friend of the president, told a crowd in Muscogee that Obama is drawing “perilously close” to the standards required for ouster.
“I think there’s some intended violation of law in this administration but I also think there’s a ton of incompetence,” Coburn said, adding that if the problems continue, “I think we’re going to have another constitutional crisis in our country in terms of the president.”
Coburn’s fellow Oklahoman, Republican Sen. James Inhofe, suggested as early as May that Obama could face impeachment over last year’s terrorist attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that led to the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. Inhofe, in a radio interview on The Rusty Humphries Show, said that the administration engaged in the “greatest cover-up in American history” over the attack and added, “People may be starting to use the I-word before too long,”
Inhofe said he believed outrage over Benghazi would endure and asserted that Obama’s impeachment could come after the 2014 midterm elections if the GOP regains control of the Senate.
And Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, being talked up among conservatives as a GOP presidential candidate in 2016, sidestepped a query during a town hall meeting in Conroe regarding why there has been no attempt to impeach Obama by acknowledging, “It’s a good question.”
“I’ll tell you the simplest answer — to successfully impeach a president you need the votes in the U.S. Senate,” Cruz said. Those votes are unavailable because the chamber is controlled by Democrats.
In the post 2000-recall election, post-9/11 world, talk about impeachment, once rarely discussed, appears to be on the upswing on both sides of the aisle, as the nation’s politics becomes increasingly divisive. From the beginning of the republic to 1998 only one president has faced impeachment, Andrew Johnson, in 1868, for violating the Tenure of Office Act when he fired Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. He ultimately was acquitted in a Senate trial by a single vote.
President Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998 for perjury and obstruction of justice focusing on his involvement in a sex scandal. He likewise was acquitted. The House Judiciary Committee adopted articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon as a result of the Watergate scandal in 1974 but he resigned before the full House vote sent the issue to the upper chamber.
Other than Stockman and Inhofe, lawmakers discussing Obama’s potential impeachment haven’t offered specific reasons for their desire to remove him from office.
Bentivolio said he is scanning the transcripts of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s hearings on the Internal Revenue Service’s treatment of Tea Party groups seeking tax exemptions for information that might tie the situation to the White House.
“I went back to my office and I have had lawyers come in, and these are lawyers, well — Ph.D.s in history — I said, ‘Tell me how I can impeach the president of the United States. What evidence do you have?’ You’ve got to have the evidence,” Bentivolio said.
Conservative organizations and journalists have been more forthcoming. The “Overpasses for Obama’s Impeachment” movement, a grassroots group claiming 40,000 members that features protestors gathering at highway overpasses seeking support for the president’s ouster, lists 12 offenses developed by Michael Connelly, identified as a retired constitutional lawyer.
The charges include pushing through a healthcare reform act “that he was fully aware was unconstitutional,” ordering a moratorium on offshore oil drilling without congressional consent, abdicating his responsibility to enforce the laws against illegal immigration, unilaterally declaring that the Defense of Marriage Act passed by the Congress is unconstitutional, the so-called “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal and engaging in the Libyan civil war without congressional consent.
Several other groups mention the administration’s actions regarding the National Security Agency securing domestic phone records to track down terrorists as a possible impeachable offense.
The White House thus far has ignored the chatter. But David Axelrod, a former top advisor to Obama who helped mastermind his two presidential victories, told MSNBC on Friday that impeachment talk is “plainly absurd, but it’s worse than absurd,” and that comments by Coburn in particular were “way out of bounds.”
“What we’ve seen is a serial attempt to disqualify — by both sides, by the way, but I think more so by the Republicans — to disqualify whoever’s the president of the United States, not just debate them, not just disagree with them, but render them illegitimate — and that is dangerous for this country,” Axelrod said.