WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner flatly denied Tuesday that congressional Republicans are moving to impeach President Barack Obama, blasting talk about it as “a scam started by Democrats at the White House.”
“We have no plans to impeach the President. We have no future plans,” Boehner told reporters after a weekly meeting with GOP members.
Boehner said “this whole talk about impeachment” comes from “the President’s own staff” and from congressional Democrats.
“Why? Because they’re trying to rally their people to give money and to show up in this year’s elections,” he said.
Boehner has emphasized several times publicly that he disagrees with former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and other conservatives pushing impeachment over their claims Obama’s grossly exceeded his executive authority.
A recent CNN-ORC opinion poll shows that almost two thirds of Americans do not believe Obama deserves to be impeached. In that same poll, however, a partisan split shows that 57 percent of Republicans support such a step, while 86 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of Independents don’t.
Boehner’s decision to sue Obama was designed to address outrage from tea party activists and others within the GOP base over a string of Obama executive orders they say circumvented Congress.
The lawsuit covers his decision last year to defer a health law requirement that businesses provide insurance coverage to their employees.
But the suit also opened the door to more discussion about impeaching the second-straight Democratic president by a Republican-led House.
The issue was magnified when incoming House GOP whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana refused to take the issue off the table during an interview over the weekend.
Dan Pfeiffer, a longtime aide and senior Obama adviser said last week that impeachment talk should not be considered a long shot.
“I would not discount that possibility,” Pfeiffer said.
Pfeiffer said that the lawsuit was evidence Republicans would consider impeachment down the road.
Congressional Democrats have seized on the issue and show no sign of letting up.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid raised the subject on the Senate floor on Tuesday at about the same time Boehner was ruling it out.
“Look in the papers today, the American people are totally opposed to this,” Reid said. “We shouldn’t be off on those tracks of impeachment and suing the President. We should be legislating.”
In the month since Boehner announced his lawsuit, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has raised nearly $7.6 million ahead of the November midterms.
But the campaign arm has pulled in $1 million alone since since Scalise’s comments on impeachment over the weekend.
With the resolution to formally authorize the lawsuit expected on the House floor on Wednesday, House Democrats are likely to continue to argue, regardless of Boehner’s comments, that that move is simply the first step toward impeachment.