The third ranking Republican official in the House refused to rule out a drive to impeach President Barack Obama during an interview with Fox News Sunday.
Here’s the transcript of the exchange between House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and Fox News host Chris Wallace:
Wallace: Will you consider impeaching the president?
Scalise: This might be the first White House in history that’s trying to start the narrative of impeaching their own president. Ultimately, what we want to do is see the president follow the laws. But the president took an oath to faithfully execute the laws of this land, and he’s not. In fact, the Supreme Court, unanimously, more than 12 times, unanimously said, the president overreached, and actually did things he doesn’t have the authority to do.
Wallace: So if he overreaches again on executive action to defer more deportations, what will the House do?
Scalise: We made it clear we’re going to put options on the table to allow the House take legal action against the president when he overreaches his authority. Others have already done that, cases have gone to the Supreme Court. Like I said, more than a dozen times, the Supreme Court unanimously, I’m not talking about a 5-4 decision, nine to zero, unanimously said the president overreached. So we’re gonna continue to be a check and a balance against this administration.
Wallace: But Impeachment is off the table?
Scalise: The White House wants to talk about impeachment and ironically they’re going out and trying to fundraise off that, too.
Wallace: I’m asking you, sir.
Scalise: The White House will do anything they can to change the topic away from the president’s failed agenda. People paying higher costs for food, for well health care, for gas at the pump. The president isn’t softballing the problems. We’re going to try to solve problems for everyday people. I would like to see the president engaged in that, too, that’s his job, but he wants to change the topic, talk about things like that.
Scalise’s talking point about the Supreme Court is false – eight of the cases in which the Supreme Court ruled against the government began during the Bush administration, and other cases involved defenses of government authority that had nothing to do with decisions made by the administration itself.
Official Republican leadership has been walking a fine line on the matter, attacking Obama’s “lawlessness” but seeking to avoid talk of impeachment. Prominent conservative figures like former Alaska Governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin have called for impeachment, and impeachment is supported by more than half of Republican voters according to a recent poll. But several prominent Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, have publicly disagreed with Palin.
Boehner’s lawsuit against Obama was seen by some political observers as a way to sate Republicans’ desire to sanction Obama without pursuing impeachment. Despite Republican complaints about presidential lawlessness, Boehner’s lawsuit is focused on a single issue – the president’s decision to delay enforcement of a provision of the Affordable Care Act compelling medium-size employers to provide health insurance for all their employees. Republicans oppose the provision of the law, so Republicans are effectively suing Obama for delaying enforcement of a part of the law that they don’t think should exist at all.