Efforts to impeach Barack Obama

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During the presidency of Barack Obama, Republican congressmembers have stated that Obama may have engaged in impeachable activity and may face removal from office.[1] Rationales offered for impeachment have included an alleged White House cover-up after the 2012 Benghazi attack [2] and failure to defend the borders from illegal immigration. No Congressional Representative has drawn up a list of articles of impeachment and proposed them to the Judiciary Committee.

Multiple surveys of U.S. public opinion have found that the clear majority of Americans reject the idea of impeaching the President while most Republicans have been in favor; for example, CNN found in July 2014 that 57% of Republicans supported efforts while about two thirds of adult Americans in general disagreed.[3]

Suggestions of impeachment

In October 2010, prior to the elections in which Republicans won control of the House, Jonathan Chait published an article in The New Republic called "Scandal TBD" where he predicted that if Republicans were to win control of the House, and Barack Obama were to win re-election in 2012, the Republicans would try to impeach Obama and use any reason possible as pretext.[4]


In May 2010, Republican Darrell Issa of California stated that the allegation that the White House had offered Pennsylvania Representative Joe Sestak a job to persuade Sestak to drop out of the Pennsylvania Senate primary election against Arlen Specter "is one that everyone from Arlen Spector to Dick Morris has said is in fact a crime, and could be impeachable".[5] With the possibility of becoming chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in January 2011, Issa said in October 2010 that the committee would not seek to impeach Obama.[6]

In August 2011, Republican Congressman Michael C. Burgess of Texas stated that the impeachment of Barack Obama "needs to happen" in order to prevent Obama from "pushing his agenda". Burgess did not mention any grounds for impeachment.[7] In June 2012, Senator Jon Kyl said on the Bill Bennett radio show that "impeachment is always a possibility" when discussing the Obama Administration policy on immigration.[8]

May 2013: James Inhofe, Benghazi attack

In May 2013, Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma stated that President Obama "could be impeached over what he alleged was a White House cover-up after last year's attack in Benghazi, Libya".[2] Inhofe said that "of all the great cover-ups in history—the Pentagon papers, Iran-Contra, Watergate, all the rest of them—this ... is going to go down as most egregious cover-up in American history".[2] Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah also stated in an interview that impeachment was "within the realm of possibilities" with regard to the September 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi, Libya, later clarifying that "it's not something I'm seeking" and that "I'm not willing to take that off the table. But that's certainly not what we're striving for."[9]

August 2013: Tom Coburn, Blake Farenthold, Kerry Bentivolio

In August 2013, Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma responded to a questioner in a town hall meeting, who had asserted that President Obama was failing to carry out his constitutional responsibilities, by saying that "you have to establish the criteria that would qualify for proceedings against the president... and that's called impeachment".[10][11] Coburn added, "I don't have the legal background to know if that rises to 'high crimes and misdemeanors', but I think you're getting perilously close".[10] Coburn did not specify what grounds he felt would support impeachment, but NBC News noted that Coburn "mentioned that he believes Department of Homeland Security officials have told career USCIS employees to 'ignore' background checks for immigrants". Coburn mentioned no evidence that substantiated his belief.[10]

At a town hall meeting with constituents, Congressman Blake Farenthold said that Obama should be impeached due to issues with Obama's birth certificate. Farenthold said that he thinks that "the House is already out of the barn on this, on the whole birth certificate issue."[12]

On August 19, 2013, Republican Congressman Kerry Bentivolio stated that if he could write articles of impeachment, "it would be a dream come true". To help in achieving that goal, he retained experts and historians.[13][14]

December 2013

On December 3, 2013, the House Judiciary committee held a hearing on the President that was formally titled "The President's Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws", which has been viewed as an attempt to begin justifying impeachment proceedings.[15]

May 2016

In May 2016, the Oklahoma Legislature filed a measure asking the representatives from Oklahoma in the House of Representatives to impeach Obama, the U.S. attorney general, the U.S. secretary of education and any other administration officials involved in the decision to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity. The same resolution also "condemns the actions of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice and the Office for Civil Rights of the United States Department of Education ... as contrary to the values of the citizens of Oklahoma".[16]

Public debate over impeachment demands

In terms of background, U.S. public opinion widely opposed efforts made to impeach previous Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. CNN Polling Director Keating Holland has stated that their organization found that 69% opposed impeaching President Bush in 2006.[3]

According to a July 2014 YouGov poll, 35% of Americans believed the president should be impeached, including 68% of Republicans.[17] Later that month, a CNN survey found that about two thirds of adult Americans disagreed with impeachment efforts. The data showed intense partisan divides, with 57% of Republicans supporting the efforts compared to only 35% of independents and 13% of Democrats.[3]

The convention of the South Dakota Republican Party voted in a 196-176 resolution to call for the impeachment of Obama based on his action to release five detainees from Guantanamo Bay in order to free Bowe Bergdahl from his Taliban captors.[18][19] Former Congressmember Allen West also expressed the view that the prisoner exchange that brought the release of Bowe Bergdahl was grounds for impeachment.[20] John Dean, former White House Counsel to Richard Nixon, criticized the movement to impeach Obama as "insanity," arguing that Republican demands for impeachment are grounded in political disagreements rather than actual impeachable offenses. "Partisans promoting and pushing impeachment as a political solution to being out of power seem to forget that what comes around goes around. These people are not conservatives, who by definition seek to protect the system; rather they are radicals who are gaming our constitutional system," he wrote.[21]

On July 8, 2014 the former Governor of Alaska and the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 Presidential election Sarah Palin publicly called for Obama's impeachment for "purposeful dereliction of duty".[22] In a full statement, she has said: “It’s time to impeach; and on behalf of American workers and legal immigrants of all backgrounds, we should vehemently oppose any politician on the left or right who would hesitate in voting for articles of impeachment.”[23][24] She first expressed her views on the blogsite BigGovernment.com[25] and she has also appeared in a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity on his show Hannity.[26]

A number of prominent Republicans have rejected calls for impeachment, including House Speaker John Boehner, Sen. John McCain and Rep. Blake Farenthold. McCain said impeachment would be a distraction from the 2014 election, and that if "we regain control of the United States Senate we can be far more effective than an effort to impeach the president, which has no chance of succeeding." Farenthold said that impeachment would be "an exercise in futility."[27]

See also


  1. Seitz-Wald, Alex (May 10, 2013). "Impeach Obama! Again!". Salon.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Jeremy Herb, "GOP Sen. Inhofe: Obama could be impeached over Benghazi 'cover-up'", The Hill (May 10, 2013).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Nicks, Denver (July 25, 2014). "Poll: One Third of Americans Want Obama Impeached". Time. Retrieved July 26, 2014. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Chait, Jonathan (Oct 6, 2010). "Scandal TBD". The New Republic. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Congressman: White House Job Offer to Sestak May Be an 'Impeachable' Offense, Fox News (May 25, 2010).
  6. Montopoli, Brian (October 22, 2010). "GOP's Darrell Issa: 'Not a Chance' We'll Impeach Obama". CBS News. Retrieved May 31, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Reid J. Epstein, "Impeach Obama, says Michael Burgess", Politico (August 9, 2011).
  8. Volsky, Igor (June 26, 2012). "Top Republican Senator Suggests Impeaching Obama Over Immigration Policies". Thinkprogress.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Rep. Jason Chaffetz doesn't rule out impeachment for Obama over Benghazi", ABC News. May 15, 2013.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Carrie Dann, "Coburn raises possibility of impeachment at town hall", NBC News (August 22, 2013).
  11. Walsh, Joan (August 23, 2013). "No, you're not impeaching anyone". Salon. Retrieved 2013-09-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Tam, Ruth (August 12, 2013). "Rep. Farenthold says House could impeach Obama". The Washington Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Steinhauer, Jennifer (Aug 24, 2013). "Ignoring Qualms, Some Republicans Nurture Dreams of Impeaching Obama". New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Kopan, Tal (August 21, 2013). "Kerry Bentivolio: Impeachment 'a dream'". Politico.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Enough with impeachment blatherings - San Antonio Express-News". Mysanantonio.com. 2013-12-06. Retrieved 2014-05-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Jonathan Greco, "Oklahoma Legislature files measure asking Congress to impeach Obama", KOCO-TV (May 20, 2016).
  17. Justin Sink, Poll: 35 percent say impeachment justified, The Hill (July 14, 2014).
  18. 06/21/2014 4:01 pm EDT (2014-06-21). "South Dakota Republican Party Passes Resolution Calling For Obama's Impeachment". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2014-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. on June 22, 2014 at 1:27 pm (2014-06-22). "South Dakota GOP Wants To Impeach Obama For Freeing Bowe Bergdahl". ThinkProgress. Retrieved 2014-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. West, Allen (2014-06-03). "The case for impeachment of Barack Hussein Obama". AllenWest.com. Retrieved 2014-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Impeachment Insanity Has Consequences, John Dean, Justia, April 4, 2014
  22. Reilly, Mollie (2014-07-08). "Sarah Palin Calls For Obama's Impeachment". HuffingtonPost.com. Retrieved 2014-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Howard, Kurtz (2014-07-09). "Sarah Palin seizes the media spotlight by playing the impeachment card". FoxNews.com. Retrieved 2014-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. France-Presse, Agence (2014-07-09). "Sarah Palin: 'It's time to impeach' Obama for making up his own laws". RawStory.com. Retrieved 2014-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Palin, Sarah (2014-07-08). "Exclusive—Sarah Palin: 'It's Time to Impeach' President Obama". Retrieved 2014-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "'Hannity' Exclusive: Palin Explains Her Call for Impeachment of Obama". FoxNewsInsider.com. 2014-07-08. Retrieved 2014-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Kaczynski, Andrew (July 10, 2014). "John McCain: 'I Don't Agree' With Sarah Palin On Impeachment". BuzzFeed.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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