Despite anger in many quarters of the nation over the president's prisoner swap, Republicans are backing off impeachment threats because they fear it would rally President Obama's Democratic base and kill the GOP's chances to win the Senate, according to congressional insiders and sources.
“150 days out from a general election is not a realistic time to begin such a solemn and Constitutionally important process,” said one advisor to House GOP leaders.
“That would have the opposite effect of what we are planning for in November. We are planning for fewer Democrats in the House and fewer Democrats in the Senate and less power for President Obama in January. Impeachment, which would never pass the Senate, and would rally Obama’s currently demoralized base, would limit, if not eliminate possible GOP gains in the House and Senate,” added the advisor.
A top Republican aide added, “that is an accurate assessment. The Democrats are divided on so many issues right now there's no reason to give them a reason to rally."
While some members have publicly warned that impeachment is on the table should the president violate another law like the one that required him to notify Congress prior to coughing up Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, discussions on the Capitol Hill have been limited to the impact it would have on the elections.
Still, the impeachment movement is picking up speed outside the beltway.
“My sense in doing interviews and talking to people around the country,” said Faithless Execution author Andrew C. McCarthy, “is that there’s a lot more anger about this in the country than the corridor between New York and Washington.”
He added: “I do get a very real sense that there is a lot more anger about lawlessness in the country.” And, said McCarthy, whose new book lays out the legal case for impeachment, “It’s been festering for a long time.”
The former prosecutor said that he has been surprised that the public is warming up to considering impeachment.
“Suddenly the world ‘impeachment,’ which I would say as little as three or four months ago, sent people certainly inside the beltway diving under their desks, now in polite society you are actually allowed to use the ‘I’ word,” he said.
“The point is, if you are going to combat presidential lawlessness under circumstances where it now looks like we’ve got two and a half years to go with an administration that seems to have thrown caution to the wind and is just moving ahead with the most extravagant parts of the agenda and is going to use its raw power to try to accomplish this, you can’t have a sensible adult conversation with how the U.S. Constitution deals with presidential lawlessness without at least broaching the subject of impeachment,” he said.Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.