Efforts to impeach Barack Obama

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President Obama

During Barack Obama's tenure as President of the United States from 2009 to 2017, certain Republican members of Congress, as well as Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich,[1] stated that Obama had engaged in impeachable activity and that he might face attempts to remove him from office.[2] Rationales offered for possible impeachment included false claims[3] that Obama was born outside the United States, that he allegedly allowed people to use bathrooms based on their gender identity, an alleged White House cover-up after the 2012 Benghazi attack, and failure to enforce immigration laws. No list of articles of impeachment was ever drawn up and proposed to the Judiciary Committee.

Multiple surveys of U.S. public opinion found that the clear majority of Americans rejected the idea of impeaching Obama, while a majority of Republicans were 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.[4]

Suggestions of impeachment[edit]

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.[5]

Job offer to Pennsylvania Representative Joe Sestak[edit]

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".[6] 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.[7]

Preventing Obama from "pushing his agenda"[edit]

In August 2011, Republican Congressman Michael C. Burgess of Texas agreed with a rally audience member 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.[8][9]

Obama administration immigration policy[edit]

In June 2012, Senator Jon Kyl said on the Bill Bennett radio show that "if it’s bad enough and if shenanigans involved in it, then of course impeachment is always a possibility. But I don’t think at this point anybody is talking about that." when discussing the Obama Administration policy on immigration.[10]

Benghazi attack[edit]

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 the deadly attack against two United States government facilities in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.[11] 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".[11] 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."[12]

Impeachment requested by a townhall meeting audience member[edit]

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".[13][14] 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".[13] 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.[13]

False claims of being born outside the United States[edit]

At a 2013 town hall meeting with constituents, two years after Obama had released his long-form birth certificate to the public, Congressman Blake Farenthold said that Obama should be impeached due to conspiracy theories relating to 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."[15]

IRS targeting conservatives[edit]

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.[16][17] During the same interview, Bentivolio called the press "the most corrupt thing in Washington," and said that he was looking to tie the White House to the IRS targeting controversy "as evidence of impeachment [sic]".

Hearing on "President's Constitutional Duty"[edit]

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. When asked by reporters if this was a hearing about impeachment, the Chairman of the committee responded that it was not, saying "I didn't mention impeachment nor did any of the witnesses in response to my questions at the Judiciary Committee hearing."[18]

Allowing transgender students to use bathrooms[edit]

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".[19]

Public debate over impeachment demands[edit]

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.[4]

According to a July 2014 YouGov poll, 35% of Americans believed President Obama should be impeached, including 68% of Republicans.[20] 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.[4]

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.[21][22] Former Congressmember Allen West also expressed the view that the prisoner exchange that brought the release of Bowe Bergdahl was grounds for impeachment.[23] 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.[24]

On July 8, 2014, the former Governor of Alaska and 2008 Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin publicly called for Obama's impeachment for "purposeful dereliction of duty".[25] In a full statement, she 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."[26][27]

A number of prominent Republicans 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."[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Seitz-Wald, Alex (May 10, 2013). "Impeach Obama! Again!". Salon.
  3. ^ Star-Advertiser, Honolulu. "Political Radar - Hawaii News - Staradvertiser.com". blogs.starbulletin.com. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Nicks, Denver (July 25, 2014). "Poll: One Third of Americans Want Obama Impeached". Time. Retrieved July 26, 2014.
  5. ^ Chait, Jonathan (October 6, 2010). "Scandal TBD". The New Republic.
  6. ^ Congressman: White House Job Offer to Sestak May Be an 'Impeachable' Offense, Fox News (May 25, 2010).
  7. ^ Montopoli, Brian (October 22, 2010). "GOP's Darrell Issa: 'Not a Chance' We'll Impeach Obama". CBS News. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
  8. ^ Reid J. Epstein, "Impeach Obama, says Michael Burgess", Politico (August 9, 2011).
  9. ^ Burgess meets with unhappy Tea Party group; Star-Telegram; Aman Batheja ; August 8, 2011
  10. ^ Volsky, Igor (June 26, 2012). "Top Republican Senator Suggests Impeaching Obama Over Immigration Policies". Thinkprogress.
  11. ^ a b Jeremy Herb, "GOP Sen. Inhofe: Obama could be impeached over Benghazi 'cover-up'", The Hill (May 10, 2013).
  12. ^ "Rep. Jason Chaffetz doesn't rule out impeachment for Obama over Benghazi", ABC News. May 15, 2013.
  13. ^ a b c Carrie Dann, "Coburn raises possibility of impeachment at town hall", NBC News (August 22, 2013).
  14. ^ Walsh, Joan (August 23, 2013). "No, you're not impeaching anyone". Salon. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  15. ^ Tam, Ruth (August 12, 2013). "Rep. Farenthold says House could impeach Obama". The Washington Post.
  16. ^ Steinhauer, Jennifer (August 24, 2013). "Ignoring Qualms, Some Republicans Nurture Dreams of Impeaching Obama". New York Times.
  17. ^ Kopan, Tal (August 21, 2013). "Kerry Bentivolio: Impeachment 'a dream'". Politico.
  18. ^ "Enough with impeachment blatherings - San Antonio Express-News". Mysanantonio.com. December 6, 2013. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
  19. ^ Jonathan Greco, "Oklahoma Legislature files measure asking Congress to impeach Obama", KOCO-TV (May 20, 2016).
  20. ^ Justin Sink, Poll: 35 percent say impeachment justified, The Hill (July 14, 2014).
  21. ^ "South Dakota Republican Party Passes Resolution Calling For Obama's Impeachment". Huffingtonpost.com. June 21, 2014. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  22. ^ June 22, 2014 at 1:27 pm (June 22, 2014). "South Dakota GOP Wants To Impeach Obama For Freeing Bowe Bergdahl". ThinkProgress. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  23. ^ West, Allen (June 3, 2014). "The case for impeachment of Barack Hussein Obama". AllenWest.com. Archived from the original on July 16, 2014. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
  24. ^ Impeachment Insanity Has Consequences, John Dean, Justia, April 4, 2014
  25. ^ Reilly, Mollie (July 8, 2014). "Sarah Palin Calls For Obama's Impeachment". HuffingtonPost.com. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  26. ^ Howard, Kurtz (July 9, 2014). "Sarah Palin seizes the media spotlight by playing the impeachment card". FoxNews.com. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  27. ^ France-Presse, Agence (July 9, 2014). "Sarah Palin: 'It's time to impeach' Obama for making up his own laws". RawStory.com. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  28. ^ Kaczynski, Andrew (July 10, 2014). "John McCain: 'I Don't Agree' With Sarah Palin On Impeachment". BuzzFeed.

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