White House not laughing about impeachment talk

Written By By Lynn Sweet Washington Bureau Chief Posted: 07/26/2014, 02:11am
Array Guatemala's President Otto Perez Molina, left, listen as U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to the media, after they met to discuss Central American immigration and the border crisis with Honduras and the El Salvadoran president in the Cabinet Room of the White House Friday, July 25, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo) ORG XMIT: DCJM119

WASHINGTON—Usually when Sarah Palin aims a dart at President Barack Obama, the White House ignores her, except on Friday, when it came to talking about impeachment.

White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said Friday morning the lawsuit House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is planning against Obama for his use of executive actions “has opened the door” for some Republicans to consider “impeachment at some point in the future.”

“You have Sarah Palin out there talking about impeachment. . . . I think a lot of people in town laughed that off,” Pfeiffer said about the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate.

But not the Obama White House.

“I would not discount that possibility that Speaker Boehner, by going down the path of that lawsuit, has opened the door to Republicans possibly considering impeachment at some point in the future,” Pfeiffer said.

Boehner wants to sue Obama over his use of executive actions — coming in the wake of gridlock in Congress, the product of sustained clashes with House Republicans.

Pfeiffer made the remark about the former Alaska governor and impeachment at a reporters breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest declined to walk it back later at the afternoon briefing. Instead, he kept it up.

On Thursday, the House Rules Committee authorized Boehner to file a lawsuit challenging Obama’s order to waive the employer mandate that is part of the Affordable Care Act.

Obama is currently weighing executive orders on immigration, which Pfeiffer said could trigger angry reactions from Republicans.

Commenting further, Pfeiffer said of an impeachment threat, “we take it very seriously, and I don’t think it would be a good thing. . . . But I think it would be foolish to discount the possibility Republicans would at least consider going down that path.”

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel noted in a statement that Boehner already ruled out impeachment and dismissed Pfeiffer’s remarks as a “fundraising exercise for Democrats.”

So who exactly among GOP leaders in the House — where an impeachment move could only start in the Judiciary Committee — is jumping on this bandwagon?

Earnest, asked if anybody in the Republican leadership is seriously talking about impeachment, said, “Well, I think Sarah Palin considers herself to be a leader.”

“. . . . I think that there are some Republicans, including some Republicans who are running for office, hoping they can get into office so that they can impeach the president. That is apparently a view that they hold, because it’s one that they have repeatedly expressed publicly,” Earnest said.

Talking up Obama being impeached is certainly a way to try to whip up the Democratic base as Congress gets ready to leave at the end of next week and won’t be back until after Labor Day.

Democrats don’t want a repeat of the summer of 2009, when the GOP-allied tea party movement gained steam when the Democrats weren’t paying attention.

Democrats may find impeachment talk is a useful distraction — and may well prove to be helpful in fundraising.

While the White House may take Palin’s comments on impeachment seriously, not all Republicans do.

I recently asked Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., about Palin urging lawmakers to impeach Obama.

‘‘Spare me,” said Roskam.

Email: lsweet@suntimes.com

Twitter: @lynnsweet

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