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Top Obama aide: GOP flirting with impeachment

A top Obama aide said the GOP's planned lawsuit against the president could be a first step toward impeachment down the road.
President Barack Obama pauses as he makes a statement in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 27, 2014 in Washington, DC.
President Barack Obama pauses as he makes a statement in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 27, 2014 in Washington, DC.

One of President Obama’s top aides said Friday that House Speaker John Boehner’s planned lawsuit against the president could pave the way for the GOP to consider impeachment down the road.

White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer made the acknowledgement at a breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor, telling reporters that any further executive action the president may take on immigration will “up the likelihood” of Republicans trying to kick the president out of office, according to the Associated Press.

Boehner has said he has no intention of impeaching the president and that he disagrees with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s push to do so.

Pfeiffer's remarks came a day after a House panel took the first step in filing a lawsuit against Obama over his use of executive power, clearing the way for the full House of Representatives, which will likely vote on the measure before heading out of town next week for summer recess.  

The House Rules Committee voted 7-4 Thursday along party lines to authorize the lawsuit – specifically over Obama using the power of the pen to delay the employer mandate of his Affordable Care Act.

The measure is expected to pass in the Republican-led House, but not without a fight from Democrats who say the lawsuit is nothing but a political ploy to fire up the conservative base before the midterm elections.

Republicans nixed several Democratic attempts to change the lawsuit legislation but did approve one amendment, introduced by Rep. Richard Nugent of Florida, requiring the government to provide a quarterly report on how much is being spent on the lawsuit.

Republican Rep. Paul Ryan applauded the panel's move on Friday, telling msnbc's Chuck Todd, "we're very concerned about the lawlessness of the administration."

When asked by Todd if the lawsuit is a productive way to spend time given congressional gridlock, Ryan said yes. "We can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can juggle a lot of bills. We’re working on border security, foreign policy, appropriations and many things at one time. So it’s not as if this displaces action on other items ... I will vote for it," he said.

The lawsuit may be a blessing in disguise for Democrats. Donations to the left have skyrocketed since the plan was announced last month. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said it had its best fundraising day of the year the day after the lawsuit was announced, raking in $584,000. This week the DCCC announced it outraised its Republican counterpart $4.5 million to $883,000 in small donations during the month of June, thanks “in large part to the Republican lawsuit against the president.”

Obama has dismissed the lawsuit, calling it a "stunt” to distract from Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill. He said in a speech late last month in Minneapolis that the GOP is “suing me for doing my job,” adding, “They don’t do anything except block me and call me names. If you’re mad at me for helping people on my own, why don’t you join me and we’ll do it together?”

While Obama has used executive actions on matters like delaying parts of the Affordable Care Act, the federal minimum wage and new environmental regulations, Obama has actually issued fewer executive orders than his predecessors. The president issues such orders, on average, every 11 days, according to the Brookings Institution.

In comparison, President George W. Bush issued an executive order, on average, every 10 days. President Ronald Reagan issued them about once every seven days, and President Jimmy Carter issued more than one every five days, according to the think tank. In fact, Obama’s rate is the slowest since President Grover Cleveland’s administration.

Even if the lawsuit does go forward, it could take years to go through the federal courts, and is unlikely to shake Obama’s short-term agenda.