This week helped make clear that there’s a sizable Republican contingent that desperately wants to impeach President Obama. It’s not altogether clear why, though as Norm Ornstein put it, the GOP’s “Impeach Obama crowd” may be “the lunatic fringe,” but it’s starting to go “mainstream.”
Advancing the cause will, however, be quite difficult. House Republican leaders aren’t on board, and plenty of rank-and-file GOP lawmakers fear political blowback. Impeachment crusaders have an uphill climb.
At least, that is, when it comes to targeting the president. National Review’s Joel Gehrke published a piece yesterday noting that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and several House Republicans are “building a case for impeaching Attorney General Eric Holder,” and by some measures, they’re “getting more traction with that idea than impeaching the president himself.”
“Impeding justice is intolerable and he should not be permitted to refuse the American people a true investigation into the actions of those who used the machinery of government to target, intimate, and silence them for politically driven reasons,” Cruz said during a June 26 floor speech.Cruz had made such comments before, but this speech was different. He spent 40 minutes laying out the case for Holder’s impeachment – spending the bulk of that time on the IRS scandal, but also citing the Justice Department’s failure to enforce various laws, the department’s Operation Fast and Furious, and Holder’s role in the administration obtaining journalists’ phone records.
What I love about this is the unstated frustration that must be evident on Capitol Hill. “We may not be able to impeach the president,” some GOP lawmakers are likely thinking, “but gosh darn it we’re going to have to impeach someone.”
In this case, a Cruz aide specifically told National Review that this faction will “move forward with his impeachment” unless Holder agrees to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS matter. (For the record, the IRS “scandal” was discredited months ago and no one has explained why there needs to be a third investigation to complement the congressional and Justice Department investigations.)
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) is apparently on board, and has begun approaching members of the House Republican leadership individually.
Long-time readers may recall that this isn’t entirely new. Back in November, some far-right House members began pushing the idea for reasons they couldn’t coherently explain. But apparently, it’s back. A House leadership aide told Gehrke that the impeach-Holder caucus has “been picking up a lot recently.”
If successful, this would be the first impeachment of a sitting cabinet official in 137 years, and only the second ever in U.S. history. Of course, there’s no reason to think it will be successful – Holder is guilty of no wrongdoing, and to my mind, is widely underrated – but if Republicans have an impeachment itch, much of the caucus may decide this is the best way to scratch it.