Rep. Blake Farenthold was forced to explain to voters back home in Texas district that while he thinks there's enough votes in the House of Representatives to impeach President Obama, there's no chance it'll happen because Democrats and Republicans can't get along well enough to get anything done. Yes, if not for the partisan gridlock in D.C., Farenthold, a Republican, assured his constituents that the president would be put on trial over his birth certificate.
In the exchange, which was caught on smartphone and posted Monday morning by BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski, Farenthold explained, "if we were to impeach the president tomorrow, you could probably get the votes in the House of Representatives to do it. But it would go to the Senate and he wouldn’t be convicted." Just as gridlock has doomed a grand bargain on taxes and maybe an immigration bill, what would undoubtedly be a wildly partisan trial of the president just can't get done because of partisan bickering.
Farenthold made the comments on Saturday during an open house at a civic center in Luling, Texas in answer to a constituent who acknowledged that she was presenting him with a "not very popular issue" — Obama's "fraudulent" birth certificate. The congressman explained, “I think unfortunately the horse is already out of the barn on this, on the whole birth certificate issue. The original Congress when his eligibility came up should have looked into it and they didn’t. I’m not sure how we fix it." The constituent, who's off camera but has a female voice, said she was holding proof that a felony had been committed. How could we let Obama get away with it? That's what lead to Farenthold's comments about impeachment. "You tie into a question I get a lot, if everyone’s so unhappy with the president’s done, why don’t you impeach him?" Farenthold told a constituent, before giving a "real frank answer" that the House and Senate would never come together to get impeachment done.
Talking to constituents is tough. A member of Congress must treat even the most far-out conspiracy theorist with respect. Mitt Romney got tripped up in the 2012 election while fielding donors' wacky ideas about how to fix the country. However, Farenthold doesn't seem to think this conspiracy theorist is that far out. Likewise, neither did Michele Bachmann when she said in May, "I will tell you, as I have been home in my district, in the sixth district of Minnesota, there isn't a weekend that hasn't gone by that someone says to me, 'Michelle, what in the world are you all waiting for in Congress? Why aren't you impeaching the president? He's been making unconstitutional actions since he came into office.'"
And indeed, there's a whole list of things some House Republicans want to impeach Obama for. In January, Texas Rep. Steve Stockman said he would do anything he could to stop Obama from using executive orders on gun control, including "even filing articles of impeachment." North Carolina Rep. Water Jones said in June, "If Congress sends one troop, if one of our troops goes to Syria and is killed, I will introduce articles of impeachment against the President." (A website called Birther Report claimed Texas Rep. Kenny Marchant endorsed impeaching in a July 8 letter to a constituent, but Marchant's staff told Watchdog.org that the letter was doctored.) In 2011, Florida Rep. Ted Yoho actually made a list. Yoho, who was elected to Congress in 2012, said on his campaign website:
Our President, Mr. Obama, should be impeached on the grounds of:
1. Breaking his oath to uphold the Constitution.
2. Attacking a non-threatening country.
3. We are a sovereign Nation and do not take commands from the U.N. or NATO.
4. Not responding within the required 60 days to inform and justify to Congress why he used the War Powers Act (which is reserved for National emergency and threats to our country by foreign invaders when Congress is convened).
5. Creating and passage of the proven unconstitutional Affordable Patient Health Care Act.
6. The unconstitutional Nationalization of GM and Chrysler.
But it seems the birther issue is still the most important to some conservative voters. On Sunday, three-time fake presidential candidate Donald Trump said on ABC's This Week, "Was there a birth certificate? You tell me. Some people say that was not his birth certificate. I’m saying I don’t know. Nobody knows."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.