“Impeach Obama! Again!”

A GOP senator floats impeaching Obama on Benghazi. Here are 14 other crazy times they've made the same plea

Topics: Impeachment, Barack Obama, Benghazi, James Inhofe, Editor's Picks,

"Impeach Obama! Again!" (Credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Taking things to their logical conclusion this afternoon, Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe suggested on a conservative radio show that President Obama may be be impeached over Benghazi. “Of all the great coverups in history — the Pentagon papers, the Iran-Contra, Watergate and all the rest of them — this … is going to go down as the most serious,” Inhofe said, a tad hyperbolically. “People may be starting to use the I-word,” he added.

There’s no doubt that people will start using the “the I-word” around Benghazi considering they’ve already invoked impeachment so, so, so many other times. Here’s a brief history of threats to impeach President Obama that have gone nowhere, in no particular order:

  • Fast and furious: Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner threatened to impeach administration officials and possibly the president over the botched gun-running investigation, telling Attorney General Eric Holder: “If we don’t get to the bottom of this — and that requires your assistance on that — there is only one alternative that Congress has, and it is called impeachment.”


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  • Boston bombing: A Washington Times columnist called for impeaching Obama after the Boston Marathon bombing because he fails to realize that “we are in a clash of civilizations between radical Islam and the West.”
  • Joe Sestak: Dick Morris, America’s best columnist, and Sean Hannity, America’s best TV host, agreed that it was a “de facto bribe” and “an impeachable offense” when the White House allegedly pushed former Pennsylvania senatorial candidate Joe Sestak out of a Democratic primary.
  • Guns: A whole slew of Republican lawmakers have floated impeaching Obama over post–Sandy Hook gun laws, and Rep. Steve Stockman even planned to introduce articles of impeachment in the House. Unfortunately, due to their efforts, Obama’s watered-down gun safety bill died in the Senate.
  • Debt: South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott, then in the House, said that if Obama invoked the 14th Amendment to circumvent the debt ceiling, it would be an “impeachable act.” Rep. Steve King promised “Obama would be impeached” if the government defaulted.
  • Balanced budget: Rep. Mo Brooks in January proposed a constitutional amendment that would make failing to balance the nation’s budget an impeachable offense.
  • Immigration: Former Sen. Jon Kyl, then the No. 2 Republican senator, responded to Obama’s deferred action immigration policy by telling radio host Bill Bennett that “impeachment is always a possibility,” especially if there are “shenanigans involved.” Rush Limbaugh joined the fun, as did the restrictionist group AILPAC, which has a petition up on its website to impeach the president.
  • DOMA: Newt Gingrich (who has some experience with impeachment) suggested impeaching the president over his decision to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court while Herman Cain called it near-treason. Social conservative stalwart Rep. Trent Franks hinted at impeachment, too.
  • Bush tax cuts: Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist said if Obama failed to extend the Bush tax cuts, “Republicans will have enough votes in the Senate in 2014 to impeach.”
  • Island giveaway conspiracy: A Texas congressional candidate wanted to impeach Obama in 2012 for supposedly giving away a string of islands to Russia.
  • Recess appointments: Fox News’ Neil Cavuto wondered if Obama could be impeached for making recess appointments. Sadly, a Fox legal analyst said no.
  • Libya: Bruce Fein, a lawyer who has written articles of impeachments against Clinton, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, did the same for Obama in 2011 over the military intervention in Libya, alleging that it violated the Constitution’s mandate that only Congress can declare war.
  • Birth certificate: A former GOP congressman who ran for office again in 2010 suggested the idea of moving to impeach Obama in order to pressure him to release his birth certificate.
  • Just existing: When a man told Rep. Michele Bachmann that President Obama should be impeached just because, Bachmann replied, “Well, I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you, I agree, I agree.” Texas Republican Michael Burgess told a Tea Party group in 2011 that he would push to impeach Obama for just generally being liberal. When a reporter asked him later what the charges would be, Burgess said he wasn’t sure, but said “it needs to happen” so Republicans can tie up Obama’s legislative agenda.

It’s not too surprising that this keeps coming up, considering that large swaths of the Republican base seem to support impeachment. Sadly, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, who is leading the charge on Benghazi, said in 2010 that there’s “not a chance” that the House will impeach the president.

Alex Seitz-Wald

Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

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