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Republican Congressmen Keep Talking About Impeachment

Obama Impeachment Protest

Despite insisting that impeachment is an issue that Democrats are exploiting for fundraising and other political purposes, Republicans still seem to be bringing up the idea of impeachment quite a lot. Recently, for example, Iowa Congressman Steve King suggested that impeachment would be the only alternative if President Obama issued additional Executive Orders on immigration:

Rep. Steve King suggested on Sunday that Congress should begin impeachment talks if President Barack Obama moves ahead with an executive order that could defer deportation for millions of illegal immigrants.

“I think, then, we have to sit down and take a look at that. Where would we draw the line otherwise?” the Iowa Republican said on “Fox News Sunday.” “If that’s not enough to bring that about, then I don’t know what would be. We’ve never seen anything in this country like a president that says ‘I’m going to make up all immigration law that I choose, and I’m going to drive this thing regardless of the resistance of Congress.'”

King’s comments come after House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said last week that impeachment was off the table following a vote to sue the president over claims that he overstepped his executive authority when delaying a key health care overhaul provision. Democrats have called the lawsuit political theater in an election year, an action meant to drum up support from a Republican right wing hungry for a confrontation with the White House.

Then, yesterday, North Carolina Congressman Walter Jones spoke out against the House lawsuit against the President and argued in favor of impeachment:

Republican Rep. Walter Jones thinks Speaker John Boehner’s lawsuit is a waste of taxpayer money — he says the impeachment of President Obama would be a better option.

“I am one that believes sincerely that the Constitution says that when a president, be it a Republican or a Democrat exceeds his authority and you can’t stop the president from exceeding his authority, then we do have what’s called impeachment,” Jones said on the Talk of the Town radio program Monday. “Thank Alexander Hamilton. He felt that the Congress need to use this process to get the attention of a president. And if the president had lost the public trust then move forward in that area. We recently had a vote to go to federal courts. I did not vote for that. I was one of five.”

Jones was indeed one five members of the Republican-controlled House who voted against a resolution last week authorizing Boehner to sue Obama; the suit will claim Obama abused his powers by bypassing Congress in delaying the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

The resolution, which passed 225-201, was also opposed by Republican Reps. Paul Broun, Scott Garrett, Thomas Massie, and Steve Stockman.

Then today, Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kacyznski reports on comments made last week by Texas Congressman Bill Flores that a “fair number” of House Republicans would like to impeach the President:

Texas Republican Rep. Bill Flores thinks that “a fair number of folks” in the House of Representatives would be willing to vote to impeach President Obama, but that such a vote would be meaningless because it would fail in the Senate and hurt House Republicans politically.

“If you were to ask many folks in the House is the president violated the law and will he be worthy of impeachment, I think a fair number of folks would say yes,” Flores said in a telephone town hall on July 30. “Well then you say, ‘OK, what do you do?’ Well, then you turn back to the Constitution. You look at Article 1, Section 2, Clause 5 and there is says the House of Representatives will have the sole power of impeachment. You say okay, so, what happens then?”

Flores said the process of two-thirds of the Senate having to vote at a trial to impeach the president in order to remove the president from office would most likely fail.
“I think all of use would agree there’s no way you get two-thirds of the Senate,” Flores said.

“So what would happen if you did that and you failed? Well, first of all you haven’t accomplished anything because you’re not gonna change the president’s behavior if he hasn’t been convicted,” Flores said. “In all likelihood the media would side with the president and would help him turn his situation around just like the situation that happened with Bill Clinton back in the ’90s.”

To be fair, Flores does go on to note that impeachment would not succeed in the Senate and that even attempting it would harm Congress, which is much the same thing that the Republican leadership and other political observers have been saying all along. However, his comments, along with those of Jones and King and other Republicans, tend to put the lie to the idea that impeachment is simply something that Democrats and the White House are pushing as a meme to rile up their own base. Obviously there is some level of support for the idea inside the Republican Party itself or we would not keep hearing comment like this, or news such as the South Dakota Republican Party endorsing impeachment at their recent convention. Thanks to the polls, of course, we already knew that a majority of Republicans support the idea of impeaching the President even though the majority of Americans are opposed to it. Additionally, it is obvious that the lawsuit gambit that House Republicans are currently pursuing is designed as much to placate the wing of their party that is most supportive of impeachment. They have tried to placate this wing of the party before, of course, such as during the debt ceiling showdown in 2011 and the run-up to the government shutdown last year, and we know how that ended. In the end, House leadership found itself backed into a corner and forced to take a course of action that they knew could not succeed thanks largely to the pressure exerted by the most vocal wing of their party. There’s no reason to believe that the same thing could not happen with respect to impeachment. The question that Republicans have to ask themselves is whether this is a force that they can control over the next two and a half years, or whether it’s something that will overwhelm them under the right circumstances.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Tillman says:

    Pay no attention to the man in front of Camera 3, talk of impeachment is a Democrat fundraising ploy!

    This is a bona fide example of the Republican/conservative media complex working against them. In olden times, this sort of talk would only exist in the halls of Congress and no reputable paper would bother printing such rumors. Now there’s a market for crazed, hyperbolic rhetoric, and you can’t clamp down on it anymore.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 0

  2. C. Clavin says:

    Walter Jones is right about one thing…Boehner’s lawsuit is a waste of taxpayer money.
    So much for the concept of Republicans being fiscal Conservatives, or against frivolous lawsuits.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 2

  3. mantis says:

    They’re only talking about it because the Democrats did! Obama’s mind control powers are very strong!

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 2

  4. PJ says:

    @mantis:

    Obama’s mind control powers are very strong!

    And clearly something he should be impeached for!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  5. Greg says:

    Projection!
    What a wonderful think it can be for the GOP

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  6. steve says:

    A number of writers seem to have fallen for the idea that this is just a Dem fundraising idea. That, in spite of the fact that it has been suggested by an awful lot of people both before and after a few people denied it. The right wing message machine works well.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  7. Tillman says:

    Watching HBO’s “Nixon by Nixon: In His Own Words,” I get the sense of what the conservative anti-Obama community must feel about the man. I mean, here you have 3,700 documented conversations of a dude completely pompous and inflated by his own station and power openly discussing contempt for his opponents and perceived enemies, flatly contradicting the statements made by his press secretary, flatly lying to everyone as often as is possible it seems…and he was brought down by an investigative press.

    In their heart of hearts, the anti-Obama conservative, the one who actually desires impeachment (not someone who just disagrees with policy), knows that Obama must be rotten to the core, must be capable of the same lengths of deception and trickery. He has to be! He comes out all the time on the press podium, smugly jokes with those who should be his accusers (obviously they want him to succeed or else his administration would’ve gone down in flames by now), he exerts a cool, aloof air around common people…he’s the left’s Nixon! A man of such calculating intellect and devoid of any moral dimension!

    I mean, we impeached Clinton for perjuring himself over sex with an intern! Obama has pulled the ultimate Nixonian move, he’s sic’d the IRS on his political enemies!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  8. Tony W says:

    @Tillman: Until the Republicans become a Serious Party, I will not take them seriously. Impeachment (both real and imaginary), ACA-repeal votes, anything Ted Cruz says, etc. are all indicators that populism trumps policy for our friends on the right.

    I wonder how long until somebody realizes there is a power vacuum out there, created by the Tea Party?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  9. stonetools says:

    The so called “establishment” conservatives are walking a fine line here. They can’t totally squelch all talk of impeachment, because they want to keep the base fired up and voting against The Usurper in November. OTOH, the establishment doesn’t want the base insisting that they must push for impeachment , else the Republic collapses and the Dark Night begins.
    Their dilemma here is that to tell the base that there is no case for impeachment at all would be admit that the case against Obama is built on lies, and they can’t do that either.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  10. James Pearce says:

    Now they’re going to impeach him over immigration? I thought the plan was to impeach him over the ACA.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  11. steve says:

    OT- Will be disappointed if you don’t do a caption contest with Kim Jong Un goes to the lubricant factory.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Pylon says:

    Speaking of Obama “scandals”, where’s a story on the House Committee report on Benghazi?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  13. stonetools says:

    @Pylon:

    SSSSH. That report exonerating Obama has been one of the best kept secrets in politics, despite our “librul” MSM. When are reporters going to call Republicans out for their blatant demagoguery on Benghazi?
    I guess when pigs fly and hell freezes over.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  14. Eagle275 says:

    Impeach? Hell no, charge Obama and his band of thugs with treason and hang them from the highest tree.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  15. al-Ameda says:

    @steve:

    A number of writers seem to have fallen for the idea that this is just a Dem fundraising idea. That, in spite of the fact that it has been suggested by an awful lot of people both before and after a few people denied it. The right wing message machine works well.

    The same people who like to run up the “Both Sides Do It” flag, are buying into the “Democrats are the ones driving this impeachment talk.” It is a measure of how dumbed down so-called main stream Washington insiders and national pundits are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. Rob Prather says:

    The Republicans need to man up and impeach him already.*

    *It’s possible I don’t have the best interests of the Republicans in mind.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0