Texas congressman raises specter of impeachment

Last year, before the midterm elections, I took an interest in the variety of Republican officeholders and candidates who said they’d like to impeach President Obama. There were, alas, quite a few.

Every time I’d write about this, the question was always the same: what exactly would the GOP use as grounds for presidential impeachment? And my response was: it doesn’t really matter; Republicans are a creative bunch and aren’t that picky.

Seven months into the new Congress, GOP officials obviously aren’t pursuing an impeachment crusade — at least not yet — though some Republicans whisper about the idea from time to time. But in his district yesterday, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) went a little further than most in talking openly about the idea. (via ThinkProgress)

When one attendee suggested that the House push for impeachment proceedings against Obama to distract the president and keep him from getting things done, Burgess was immediately receptive. […]

“It needs to happen, and I agree with you it would tie things up,” Burgess said. “No question about that.”

Pressed by a reporter after the event, Burgess added, “We need to tie things up.” And what, pray tell, would Republicans use as a justification for impeachment? The right-wing lawmaker said, “The articles would have to be drafted. They would have to be substantial. Right now, I don’t know that you have that substance behind them.”

But who needs a substantive reason to draw up articles of impeachment against a sitting president? Congressional Republicans impeached the last Democratic president, and don’t much care about norms or propriety, so why not just impeach every Democratic president?

It would certainly “tie things up.”

Also note, Burgess isn’t just some wild-eyed freshman; he’s currently in his eighth year as a member of Congress.

For the record, no, I don’t really expect the House to impeach the president, at least not unless Obama gets a second term, at which point anything’s possible. But the fact that a member of Congress is comfortable speaking like this, out loud and on the record, is a reminder of just how far gone Republicans really are.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.