The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee admitted today that Republicans have no grounds for articles of impeachment against President Obama.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the other things you see coming out of this are more and more calls for the president to be impeached, Sarah Palin most prominently this week. Any articles of impeachment would be drawn up by your committee. Is this something you’re considering? Or do you agree with Speaker Boehner who says it’s off the table?
GOODLATTE: We are not working on or drawing up articles of impeachment. The Constitution is very clear as to what constitutes grounds for impeachment of the president of the United States. He has not committed the kind of criminal acts that call for that.
On the other hand, we do believe that the president is not enforcing the law. And there’s a wide array of issues, not just immigration, where we believe that. And that’s why the speaker, and many of us in the Congress, are getting ready to take legal action to stand up for the people’s right, for their elected representatives to be the part of our government that passes laws, not a president with his pen and his cell phone.
There has been a story floating around for the last few days that Speaker Boehner is pursuing a lawsuit against President Obama in order to silence the calls among Republicans for articles of impeachment against President Obama. If Boehner was trying to take impeachment off the table with this lawsuit, he is failing miserably. The lawsuit is whetting the appetite among the Republican rank and file for impeachment. It is almost as if they expect impeachment if Republicans win back control of the Senate.
Goodlatte is correct. Republicans don’t have any grounds for impeachment articles against President Obama. It is rare that a top Republican publicly states that President Obama is not committing a crime.
Rep. Goodlatte may have hurt the Republican case against Obama with his statements because the Boehner lawsuit sounds more and more like the kind of legislative versus executive branch turf war that the courts have historically been reluctant to get involved in.
Republicans have been calling for this president to be impeached for things that George W. Bush did. Currently, some Republicans want to impeach Obama for Bush’s immigration policy. It never stops, but the Boehner lawsuit has thrown gasoline on the fire. Instead of calming the impeachment talk, House Republicans have made things exponentially worse with their lawsuit scheme.
Veteran congressional Republicans understand what impeaching Bill Clinton did to their approval ratings. That’s why they are trying to steer the base away from impeaching President Obama. However, the lawsuit could backfire on the House Republicans. Instead of firing up Republican voters for November, a refusal to impeach might cause them to stay home. Republican voters have been told for years that Obama needs to be removed from office, so they aren’t going to be happy when their elected members of congress refuse to follow through.
Top House Republicans have painted themselves into a corner, and they are being forced to admit that they don’t really want to impeach Obama. The lawsuit still sets up a path to impeachment, but it is clear that the House Republican leadership is losing their nerve and they apparently don’t want to go down that road.