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Talk of impeaching Barack Obama has been broached by members of Congress, media, community activists, truckers and others from both left and right over the past several years.
And now Washington Post commentator Paul Waldman says it’s going mainstream.
“Now we have the Benghazi select committee, and a select committee is what you form when there may be crimes and misdemeanors to uncover,” he points out.
“It has no other business to distract it, and it will be led by Trey Gowdy, a former prosecutor who excels at channeling conservatives’ outrage,” Waldman wrote. “To be clear, this doesn’t mean that [House Speaker John] Boehner or the party establishment he represents want impeachment, not by any means. They realize what a political disaster it was when they did it in 1998, and they understand that the effects would likely be similar if it happened again.”
But Waldman writes that “there are multiple Republican members of Congress who have at least toyed with the idea, and the committee’s hearings could build pressure in the Republican base for it.”
Among the people who have raised the prospect are Watergate reporter Bob Woodard, actor Steven Seagal, Ambassador Alan Keyes, Code Pink Co-founder Medea Benjamin and Oliver North, the former Marine Corps lieutenant colonel first known for his testimony as a National Security Council staff member under President Reagan.
“Tragically, this administration has gotten away with things that any other president would have been impeached for,” North said. “There’s no doubt in my mind.”
Waldman noted that National Review writer Andrew McCarthy is coming out with a book titled “Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment.”
The select committee hearings, said Waldman, will “provide an institutional pathway and the requisite media attention necessary to air all sorts of dramatic allegations about the administration (supported by evidence or not).”
Non-stop coverage would follow, and talk radio hosts would stir up the Republican base, he said.
“All that would make many in the House conclude that coming out in favor of impeachment is the safest political play to make. And isn’t it the logical extension of everything they’ve been saying for the last five years about this socialist anti-American liberty-destroying president?” Waldman wrote.
“In all seriousness, an impeachment drive would be, in many ways, another iteration of the central conflict of this period of our political history, the one between a tea party pushing the GOP to ever more radical tactics and a party establishment warning of political catastrophe if they go too far.”
Among those raising the issue has been Seagal, whose dozens of films feature action and violence but also have an underlying theme of seeking justice. He said Obama would be impeached if the truth about the Benghazi attack was revealed.
His charge came Feb. 22 in an appearance at the Western Conservative Conference in Phoenix
“Never in my life did I ever believe that our country would be taken over by people like the people who are running it this day,” said Seagal.
“I think that when we have a leadership that thinks the Constitution of the United States of America is a joke, when we have a president who has almost 1,000 executive orders now, when we have a Department of Justice that thinks that any kind of a judicial system that they make up as they are going along can get by with whatever they decide that they want to do – like Ted Nugent said the Fast and the Furious, what’s happening with the Fast and the Furious? What’s happened with the truth about any of the greatest scandals of American history that have happened right before our eyes?” Seagal said.
“If the truth about Benghazi were to come out now, I don’t think that this man would make it through his term. I think he would be impeached,” he said.
Seagal has company in his worries.
One group is calling on Americans to converge on Washington on May 16 to protest Obama’s presence. They plan to stay until he and other Washington officials are gone.
The event, organized by U.S. retired Col. Harry Riley, is called Operation American Spring.
Riley said the goal is to remove “corrupt” leaders who violate the Constitution and Bill of Rights, including Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Attorney General Eric Holder.
“The out-of-control government leadership must be stopped,” Riley wrote on his Patriots for America website, where he launched the campaign for the rally.
Riley’s plans seems to align mostly with what another retired military leader, Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, has advocated.
As WND reported, Vallely said it’s time for millions of Americans to “stand up” to a federal government that is “conducting treason … violating the Constitution, violating our laws.”
He’s calling for marches, a legislative vote of “no confidence” in President Obama and congressional leaders, even citizen arrests, drawing inspiration from the 33 million Egyptians who stood up to their government and removed Muslim Brotherhood officials from office.
Riley explains his inspiration comes at least partly from Georgetown professor Jonathan Turley’s congressional testimony.
The liberal professor has represented members of Congress in a lawsuit over the Libyan war, represented workers at the secret Area 51 military base and served as counsel on national security cases. He now says Obama is a danger to the U.S. Constitution.
He was addressing a House Judiciary Committee hearing Dec. 4. Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., asked him: “Professor Turley, the Constitution, the system of separated powers is not simply about stopping one branch of government from usurping another. It’s about protecting the liberty of Americans from the dangers of concentrated government power. How does the president’s unilateral modification of act[s] of Congress affect both the balance of power between the political branches and the liberty interests of the American people?”
Turley replied: “Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The danger is quite severe. The problem with what the president is doing is that he’s not simply posing a danger to the constitutional system. He’s becoming the very danger the Constitution was designed to avoid. That is the concentration of power.”
Congress already is addressing charges that Obama is violating the Constitution.
WND reported when Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said Obama’s actions have reached “an unprecedented level, and we’ve got to do something about it.”
"Assume that a statute said you had to provide two forms of ID to vote. Can the president require three forms? Can the president require one form? Can you suspend all requirements? If not, why not?" he said. "If you can turn off certain categories of law, do you not also have the power to turn off all categories of law?"
Gowdy cited Obama's decisions to ignore certain immigration laws, even though Congress did not approve the changes. He also cited arbitrary changes to the Obamacare law and Obama's "recess appointments" of judges even though the U.S. Senate was not in recess.
His proposal is for Congress to take the White House to court over the president's actions, through a resolution proposed by Rep. Tom Rice, R-S.C., that would authorize the House to sue the Obama administration. It has 118 co-sponsors.
Rice said that because of "this disregard of our country's checks and balances, many of you have asked me to bring legal action against the president."
"After carefully researching the standing the House of Representatives has and what action we can take, I have introduced a resolution to stop the president's clear overreach," he said.
A Fox News interviewer asked Gowdy if Obama could refuse to enforce election laws.
"Why not?" asked Gowdy, "If you can turn off immigration laws, if you can turn off the mandatory minimum in our drug statutes, if you can turn off the so-called Affordable Care Act – why not election laws?"
WND reported that it was at the same hearing that Michael Cannon, director of Health Policy Studies for the Cato Institute, said there is "one last thing to which the people can resort if the government does not respect the restraints that the Constitution places of the government."
"Abraham Lincoln talked about our right to alter our government or our revolutionary right to overthrow it," he said.
"That is certainly something that no one wants to contemplate. If the people come to believe that the government is no longer constrained by the laws, then they will conclude that neither are they."
Cannon said it is "very dangerous" for the president to "wantonly ignore the laws, to try to impose obligations upon people that the legislature did not approve."
Several members of Congress also contributed their opinions in an interview with talk-show host Sean Hannity.
See the Hannity segment:
Talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh says Obama won't be impeached. But Limbaugh also is making the case that the Constitution is in crisis, an emergency for which the founders probably created the impeachment process.
"You can't impeach the first black president," he said on his radio show recently. "No matter how corrupt or lawless."
But he said the danger is very high, citing Boehner's recent comments that the House wouldn't adopt amnesty legislation this year because the president probably wouldn't follow it.
"This is the president of the United States effectively nullifying the legislative branch of government," an outraged Limbaugh said. "He's basically saying ... and he has in practically these words, said this, 'I got a pen and I got a phone and if they don't do what I want I'm going to it anyway.'
"That's not a ho-hummer to me. That is major. If the chartered body in our government that makes the law decides not to because they don't think it'll matter, because the executive branch will just ignore it, I mean that's a breach of serious proportion," he said.
"That is a constitutional challenge and crisis that is very real that nobody apparently has the courage to do anything about because of the president's race," he said.
Ambassador Alan Keyes, however, wrote in a WND column that Limbaugh isn't right about impeachment.
"When Rush Limbaugh says that 'efforts to try to have Obama impeached or held personally responsible for these scandals is a bunch of wasted effort,' he is saying that, on account of the politics of our times, this fundamental aspect of the U.S. Constitution no longer matters. With all due respect to Rush Limbaugh (and my respect for him is sizable and sincere), I beg to differ. The judgment about 'wasted effort' depends on what we're trying to achieve. If politics is just a partisan game, with no goal but to score points for one side or the other, it may be reasonable to conclude that impeachment is a wasted effort. After all, the Democrats who control the U.S. Senate will never allow Obama to be removed from office. Doesn't this make impeachment impossible? "
He continued: "Mr. Limbaugh is right to assume that impeachment is inherently political. In this respect his view accords with that of Alexander Hamilton, who wrote (in Federalist No. 65) that '… the subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed … from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.'"
But Keyes said: "The difference between Limbaugh and Hamilton, however, is that when Mr. Limbaugh speaks of politics he is referring to the competition of partisan factions. But for Hamilton politics means the business of citizens, i.e., individuals characterized by their concern for the common good of their society as a whole, not just their own personal, factional, partisan interests. From Hamilton's perspective, the way elected representatives handle such offenses is therefore a test of their concern for the common good. If they act, or refuse to act, based solely on whether by doing so they advance their personal or factional agenda, they show their contempt for the well-being of the nation as a whole. They thereby prove themselves unfit for the offices (duties) they hold, whether or not they are ever called to account for their dereliction."
Polls have revealed American support for impeachment is growing, and rock legend and gun-rights defender Ted Nugent said there's "no question" Obama should be impeached.
Referring to Obama, Nugent says: "There's no question that this guy's violations qualify for impeachment. There's no question."
He blasted "the criminality of this government, the unprecedented abuse of power, corruption, fraud and deceit by the Chicago gangster-scammer-ACORN-in-chief."
"It's so diabolical," he said.
Nugent made his comments in an interview with radio host Alex Jones.
Even Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin called for the impeachment of Obama over his policy of permitting drone strikes on American citizens overseas who are members of terrorist organizations.
On WABC Radio's "Aaron Klein Investigative Radio," Benjamin affirmed she believes the drone warfare is an impeachable offense.
Among members of Congress, the idea has been getting more attention.
A recent comment was from Rep. Paul Broun, a Georgia Republican who is seeking to replace the retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
A video from a forum featuring candidates for Chambliss' seat shows Broun and two others, Derrick Grayson, an engineer, and Eugene Yu, a businessman, raising their hands when asked whether they would support impeachment.
A forum moderator asked the candidates: "Obama has perjured himself on multiple occasions. Would you support impeachment if presented for a vote?"
Broun, Grayson and Yu raised their hands.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa; Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas; Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas; Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas; Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.; Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, R-Mich.; Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.; Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah; Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.; Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.; Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas; Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla.; and Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla.
Stockman even handed out in Congress copies of a book that has been described by its authors as the "articles of impeachment" for Barack Obama. Stockman suggested that special investigations and possibly prosecutions are needed in response to Fast and Furious, Benghazi and other Obama scandals.
Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, was speaking at a town hall meeting when he considered the idea. A video of his comments was posted at the Western Center for Journalism.
"I've looked at the president. I think he's violated the Constitution. I think he's violated the Bill of Rights," he said.
He said at some point a decision must be made.
"I think if the House had an impeachment vote, it would probably impeach the president."
But he noted there are only 46 members of the GOP in the U.S. Senate, where an impeached president would be put on trial.
To obtain a conviction, the prosecuting team must have 67 votes, and he wasn't sure even all of the GOP members would vote to convict.
WND previously reported Coburn's statement that Obama is "perilously close" to qualifying for impeachment.
Speaking at the Muskogee Civic Center in Oklahoma, the senator said, "What you have to do is you have to establish the criteria that would qualify for proceedings against the president, and that's called impeachment."
Coburn said it's "not something you take lightly, and you have to use a historical precedent of what that means."
Earlier, Bentivolio said it would be a "dream come true" to impeach Obama.
Bentivolio told the Birmingham Bloomfield Republican Club Meeting, "You know, if I could write that bill and submit it, it would be a dream come true."
He told constituents: "I feel your pain and I know. I stood 12 feet away from that guy and listened to him, and I couldn't stand being there. But because he is president I have to respect the office. That's my job as a congressman. I respect the office."
Bentivolio said his experience with the president caused him to consult with attorneys about what it would take to remove Obama from office.
Cruz responded to a question about impeachment after a speech.
"It's a good question," Cruz said. "And I'll tell you the simplest answer: To successfully impeach a president you need the votes in the U.S. Senate."
In May, Inhofe suggested Obama could be impeached over a White House cover-up after the attack in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012.
He told listeners of "The Rusty Humphries Show": "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 the most egregious cover-up in American history."
But even with that searing indictment, Inhofe stopped short of calling for impeachment.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, has offered tentative support for impeachment.
"I'm not willing to take it off the table, but that's certainly not what we're striving for," he told CNN.
One Republican actually has come out and called for the impeachment of Obama, and he did it more than two years ago, before he became a congressman.
Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., posted on his website in June 2011 a list of reasons for impeachment.
Other figures who have discussed impeachment include Glenn Beck, Watergate investigative reporter Bob Woodward, WND columnist Nat Hentoff and a panel of top constitutional experts.
And Fox News host Judge Jeanine Pirro launched a scathing, on-air indictment of Obama, calling for his impeachment.
On Saturday night's broadcast of "Justice with Judge Jeanine," Pirro uncorked a blistering verbal assault on Obama in connection with his handling of the fatal onslaught of the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, and the subsequent cover-up.
"Mr. President, it's called an abrogation of duty," Pirro said. "You have not taken your oath to honestly and faithfully execute the duties of your office. As commander in chief, you have NOT protected us. This dereliction of duty as commander in chief demands your impeachment."
Watch a 90-second clip of Judge Jeanine Pirro calling for Obama's impeachment:
Woodward said: "If you read through all these emails, you see that everyone in the government is saying, 'Oh, let's not tell the public that terrorists were involved, people connected to al Qaida. Let's not tell the public that there were warnings.' And I have to go back 40 years to Watergate when Nixon put out his edited transcripts to the conversations, and he personally went through them and said, 'Oh, let's not tell this, let's not show this.' I would not dismiss Benghazi. It's a very serious issue."
Additionally, radio host Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and one-time presidential candidate, predicted Obama won't serve out his second term because of his complicity in a cover-up over Benghazi.
See Dennis Kucinich advocate for impeachment over Libya: