The Republican message on impeachment is something of a mess. For every GOP leader who dismisses such talk as a Democratic “scam,” there are two more Republicans taking the idea seriously. For example, in Alaska last week, two GOP Senate candidates touched on the idea – and the more credible of the two, former state Attorney General Dan Sullivan, said he would take impeachment “very, very seriously” if elected and “would focus on it” if it reached the Senate.
So much for the notion of a Democratic “scam.”
Mike Huckabee is further helping exemplify the confusion. Last week, the former Arkansas governor said President Obama “absolutely” deserves to be impeached, adding there’s “no doubt that he has done plenty of things worthy of impeachment.” And then over the weekend, Huckabee added, “Let me be very clear. I never said he should be impeached.”
While Republicans work on sorting this out, some of their brethren are prepared to move on – not to other issues, but to other executive-branch officials they’d like to see impeached.
Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) doesn’t want conservatives to try to impeach President Obama, but he supports targeting Attorney General Eric Holder.“It is clear, with the Harry Reid Senate, impeachment of the president is not going anywhere,” Cruz told National Review Online during an interview at the 2014 RedState Gathering in Fort Worth, Texas. “If the House of Representatives were to impeach the attorney general, that process would shine much needed light on the indefensible abuse of power by the attorney general,” he says.
And what, pray tell, is the evidence of Eric Holder abusing his power? Cruz says he’s still outraged by the IRS “scandal,” a controversy that evaporated a year ago when no one could find any evidence of wrongdoing by anyone. The far-right senator nevertheless suspects Holder of “obstruction of justice” for reasons he has not been able to explain.
(Others on the far-right have different targets in mind. Rep. Michele Bachmann last week raised the prospect of impeaching Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.)
No good can come of this.
To be sure, Cruz conceded that he doesn’t expect Holder to be removed from office by the Senate, even if House Republicans impeach him. But the Texas Republican – who has a little too much influence over the direction of the lower chamber – told National Review he’d like to see the House pursue articles of impeachment against the Attorney General anyway in order to “shine a powerful light” on whatever it is Cruz finds important.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because far-right GOP lawmakers have been slowly moving in this direction for a long while. In November 2013, some House Republicans began pushing for Holder’s impeachment. A month ago, a House GOP leadership aide said that the impeach-Holder caucus has “been picking up a lot recently.”
As we talked about at the time, this seems to be the manifestation of a bizarre sort of frustration. “We may not be able to impeach the president,” some GOP lawmakers appear to be arguing, “but gosh darn it we’re going to have to impeach someone.”