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GOP fuels, downplays impeachment talk at the same time

One of these days, congressional Republicans are going to have to make a decision: put the impeachment fire out or keep fanning the flames.
The U.S. Capitol is shown at sunset in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Capitol is shown at sunset in Washington, D.C.
One of these days, congressional Republicans are going to have to make a decision: are they going to extinguish their party's impeachment talk or will they fan the flames? Right now, GOP lawmakers are trying to do both simultaneously.
For their part, some Republican leaders on Capitol Hill seem eager to make this story go away. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) recently dismissed the entire story as a "scam" that Democrats "started" as an election-year stunt. It's an assessment shared by much of the Beltway media, which seems disgusted with Dems for turning this into a campaign issue.
But the criticism keeps running into the same problem: Democrats aren't the ones keeping this story alive.

Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) said that while he thinks impeaching President Obama would be a bad move for House Republicans, a number of his colleagues would vote to oust the President. "If you were to ask persons and many folks in the House, has the president violated the law and will he be worthy of impeachment, I think a fair number of people would say yes," Flores said during a telephone town hall last week, according to audio obtained by Buzzfeed.

Flores went on to say he doesn't see impeachment as worthwhile because the effort would ultimately fail, but the Texas congressman nevertheless told his constituents a "fair number" of his colleagues would support impeaching President Obama for reasons he did not identify -- and suggested the cause has merit.
This report surfaced the same afternoon as another Republican congressman, North Carolina's Walter Jones, said he preferred impeachment over his party's lawsuit idea. Also yesterday, a Republican congressional candidate in Tennessee told reporters, "I would be open to impeachment as an option to put a stop to the out-of-control executive orders and overreach this president has shown."
All of this comes just a few days after Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) raised the prospect of pursuing "that 'I word' that we don't want to say," and a week after House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) refused multiple opportunities to say impeachment is off the table.
Everyone in Washington asking, "Why won't Democrats stop talking about impeachment?" appears to be asking the wrong question. Democrats are only talking about what Republicans are talking about.
Following up on a piece from the other day, there are fairly comprehensive lists of all the Republicans -- including many sitting, elected members of Congress in both chambers -- who've pushed the impeachment idea in recent years. There's no denying the obvious fact that Democrats are delighted to use the issue for fundraising and to motivate their base to show up this fall, but the right and many reporters often make it seem as if Dems have manufactured this story out of nothing.
And that's simply not the case.
If the political establishment perceives all of this as unseemly, perhaps insiders should take this up with the party that picked this fight for no reason.