All-Star Panel: Will Republicans really try to impeach Obama?

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," July 29, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


REP. BARBARA LEE, D - CA: We need to stop this politically motivated extreme and disturbing march toward impeachment, because that's where this is going.

REP. XAVIER BECERRA, D - CA: It's probably percolating in the Republican conference, this notion that the lawsuit is not enough; we got to get rid of this guy. It's impeachment time.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R – OH, HOUSE SPEAKER: This whole talk of impeachment is coming from the president's own staff and coming from Democrats on Capitol Hill. Why? Because they are trying to rally their people to give money and to show up in this year's elections. We have no plans to impeach the president. We have no future plans. Listen, it's all a scam started by Democrats at the White House.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: The House speaker talking about possible plans for impeachment. We did hear the White House senior aide Dan Pfeiffer speaking about the seriousness the White House took this possibility. You also see this tweet from Steve Israel, congressman, the head of the Democratic campaign -- Congressional Campaign Committee yesterday, "The DCC had our single biggest online fundraising day of the cycle, bringing in more than $1 million from more than 50,000 donations." They tied that directly to impeachment talk.

And take a look at our latest Fox poll about this question of impeaching President Obama. You see in favor 36 percent, oppose 61 percent. Let's bring in our panel, Juan Williams, columnist with The Hill, A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of The Hill, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. OK, Charles, thoughts?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, look, this clearly is a concoction of Democrats. It shows how desperate they are. They know mid- terms are coming up. They know that in 1998 the party was saved, the sixth year of the administration, it was saved by impeachment, overreaching on impeachment by Republicans. And this is a good issue. It's a good way to raise money.

But I like Boehner's contempt, sort of the tone, the sneering tone he had about all of this. It's like Harry Reid saying, look, a couple of years ago, he had been told that Romney hadn't paid any taxes, you know [INAUDIBLE] as a rumor.

There's only one real thing here, and that is that Obama is said to, or there are reports from the White House, that he's going to do something by executive order about immigration. If he were to do something like legalize, five -- say half, which is what's been talked about, huge numbers of illegal immigrants, to do it by executive order, which would be clearly lawless and would be the biggest domestic overreach of a president in memory, it would be an impeachable offense. I would be 100 percent against impeachment because it's political suicide, but it really would be the basis for that.

That's what I think the White House may actually be softening people up for, an executive order that reaches impeachable offense, but it's a way of, it's like a preemptive strike.

BAIER: Let's be year. There have been some Republicans who talked about it. Sarah Palin on this channel said impeachment. There have been other contributors on this channel who have called for impeachment. There have been lawmakers who have mentioned it. Scalise, Congressman Scalise this weekend pressed by Chris Wallace, "is impeachment off the table?" -- would not answer that fully.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: When you saw House Speaker Boehner in that response today, he said we have no plans, we have no future plans, which is what presidential wannabes say. They say I have no plans to run for president because they are not going to rule it out. John Boehner is not allowed to rule it out. His conference won't let him.

I speak to Republican members all the time, and they increasingly hear sometimes in phone town halls or in person, on the most on the topic of President Obama's executive overreach, and people in the audience ask if he should be impeached. Why can't he? People have asked me why he can't be impeached. So it's not that it isn't out there.

I think Charles is right. Steve King of Iowa, the congressman, predicts that with very far reaching amnesty executive actions it could reach critical mass and the conference could, you know, take Boehner aside and proceed with something. It's a real possibility. It is also at the same time a scam by the White House. You can see the Democrats, they can barely contain their giggles when they're talking about this. It's a fundraising bonanza. But until you see John Boehner literally put a stake in it, there's going to be smoke and they're going to tell their donors this is a fire.

BAIER: Well, here's conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh and his take on all of this back and forth.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: CNN and other drive by media are going to report this not as something Obama is trying to make happen. They are going to report this as something the Republicans want to happen so that they get creamed by it even if they do nothing. It's a strategy.


BAIER: It is fair to say that most Republicans are not pushing for this.
Isn't that true, Juan?

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: No. If you look at the polls right now --

BAIER: I just showed a poll.

WILLIAMS: No, you showed a poll overall what Americans want, 33, 36 percent I think you had. But if you just ask Republican voters, it's as high as 68 -- CNN had 57 percent.

BAIER: I'm talking about lawmakers here who are pushing impeachment.

WILLIAMS: No. Pushing is a soft word. But I mean, if you ask people on the record right now, you get what Boehner said today, which is we have no plans, et cetera, you get what Scalise said on Sunday on "Fox News Sunday," which is kind of evasive, Bret. What he's trying to do is say yes to the base, and I'm not ruling it out to the base, because the base and a lot of talk radio hosts, Limbaugh included, are saying Obama is a tyrant, he's exceeding his authority, he's a bad man, et cetera, deserving of impeachment. You know, impeachment is supposed to be for high crimes and misdemeanors. But that is out there. There has to be some way, will someone take care of this horrible man in some way.

BAIER: It's not horrible man. It's the executive actions overreaching --

WILLIAMS: Right. If that's what they believe -- and that's what they seem to believe -- somebody do something. And what they are looking at first is the lawsuit. The lawsuit has real trouble because it lacks standing, et cetera. The real remedy in terms of if the president has exceeded authority, as we heard it described, would be to say that this president is deserving of a vote by the House on impeachment. And so while the Democrats are just exploiting this --

BAIER: Do you think this administration is exploiting this issue?

WILLIAMS: Of course they are.

BAIER: And almost kind of ginning it up?

WILLIAMS: I don't think you have to gin it up. As we said from the polls that you shown that I've cited, there's a real element within the Republican Party, especially in the hard core energizer Tea Party base that just loathes Obama and is anxious to throw him out.

KRAUTHAMMER: As for impeachment, it is coming from real actions the president has taken. Lawlessly changing the ObamaCare law, his own law, lawlessly changing the drug laws, stuff you might want to do but Congress has to do it. Lawlessly changing our energy policy, essentially enacting cap and trade after the Congress had said no by executive orders. These as Jonathan Turley among other principled liberals have said is an assault on the separation of powers. It is a serious constitutional offense. It isn't a policy issue. It isn't a matter of he being a bad man. It's a violation of our constitutional law.

And if he does it on immigration, I could see this president, who said he would be the one who would bring us together. I can see him being cynical enough as a way to gin up feelings against the Democrats over immigration, by executive order calling for the non-enforcement of the immigration laws, which would be an invitation to impeachment, that I think would help him politically. He could do that, and that is part of this kabuki dance.

STODDARD: Bret's point is right, Juan, that there's not a critical mass of Republican lawmakers in the Congress who believe that's the right thing to do. But the lawsuit exists because of the pressure from the base and some lawmakers to address this head on. It could reach critical mass with that issue, but right now, no, everyone knows it's a political loser with the exception of a few rogue members.

BAIER: We're talking about the politics here. Charles is talking about the substance.

STODDARD: The politics are so bad that even Boehner and, I believe, under any immigration executive order this summer will still beg them not to pursue impeachment.

BAIER: Next up, President Obama says he's not starting a new Cold War with Russia.

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