Chaffetz doesn’t rule out impeachment for Obama
May 14th, 2013
08:46 PM ET
10 years ago

Chaffetz doesn’t rule out impeachment for Obama

(CNN) - Rep. Jason Chaffetz reiterated Tuesday that the impeachment of President Barack Obama is possible as the White House faces scrutiny over its role in responding to the terror attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.

“Look, it's not something I'm seeking,” the Republican congressman from Utah said on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.” “It's not the endgame; it's not what we're playing for. I was simply asked, is that within the realm of possibilities, and I would say ‘yes.’ I'm not willing to take that off the table. But that’s certainly not what we’re striving for.”

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Chaffetz first said impeachment could be an option in an interview published Monday by the Salt Lake Tribune.

“We want truth,” Chaffetz said on CNN. “We want to have the president do what he has said he would always do, and that is, be open and transparent. Thus far, the White House has not done that.”

Republicans' accusations of an administration-led coverup in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi attack were fueled last week by the release of internal e-mails showing that top administration officials scrubbed any mention of al Qaeda from talking points given to members of Congress and Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

The unclassified talking points have become a political flashpoint in a long-running battle between the administration and Republicans, who say that officials knew the attack was a planned terror operation while they were telling the public it was an act of violence that grew out of a demonstration over an anti-Islam video.

Asked Tuesday about critics who compare the controversy to Watergate, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that “people who make those kind of comparisons need to check their history.”

“What we have here with one issue, in Benghazi, is so clearly … a political sideshow, a deliberate effort to politicize a tragedy,” Carney said, echoing comments that Obama made Monday.

Chaffetz, who sits on the House Oversight Committee that heard testimony last week from three State Department employees who were dissatisfied with the administration’s handling of the attack, said the White House is simply trying to “demoralize” and take out the messenger.

“We heard from three very credible witnesses with more than 70 years of public service saying that what happened on the ground versus what the White House would lead us to believe were two totally different things,” he said.

The House of Representatives has the power to impeach a federal official by handing down charges called articles of impeachment. The Senate then tries the official and determines whether to remove the individual from office. For example, President Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998 over perjury allegations stemming from his sexual relationship with a White House intern, but the Senate acquitted him.

- CNN’s Ashley Killough and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Filed under: Jason Chaffetz • Libya • President Obama • Utah
soundoff (882 Responses)
  1. bobhamiltonchicago

    I wasn't aware that the President could be impeached by a single member of the House. The reporter seems to not consider that there may be an element of politics in this storyline.

    May 15, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  2. DonN

    Republicans do not have a record they can run on. Obstruction, debt crisis, and "dribble-down-economics" not to mention Free Trade which shipped American jobs overseas are not vote getters; therefore they have to fall back on their tried and true tacit: lying. Create false scandals to smear the other guys rather then stand on your reord of failure.

    May 15, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  3. Brian

    I'm a long time republican, but I got tell you. These republicans politicians are disgusting me! They are the worst thing that ever happened to this country! I won't vote for any one then anymore! Why didn't they ask Bush where were the WMD, after invading Iraq? Shame on all of then!

    May 15, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  4. Jimmyjam048

    It would be different if it was proven that the administration knew about the attack in advance and did nothing, but to harp on the issue that the initial reports were not 100% accurate is foolish. If they had I initially blamed Al Queda and referred to this as a terrorist attack and it was later discovered to have been something else, the adm would look like fools.
    Now the Republicans are looking that way. Bobby J was right. The Republicans have become the party of stupid.

    May 15, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  5. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    The teapublican party is on the verge of being IMPEACHED! But ya'll can save face by drinking Kool-Aid!

    May 15, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  6. Data Driven

    LOL! Chaffetz obviously didn't watch the TV news yesterday, when it was revealed that the White House emails that got the Republicans so riled up were completely mischaracterized, probably by the writers of the Weekly Standard who made such a big stink about it in the first place. I.e., the Benghazi story is OVER.

    Chaffetz is floating trial balloons, but I doubt that Boehner, sober or not, is dumb enough to try impeachment on the basis of exactly nothing: no proof of a "cover-up", no video of a cackling Obama giving orders to Al-Qaida to bomb the consulate, nothing. Well, it would be a splendid way to divide the country further.

    Maybe we SHOULD be divided. What does a constantly squabbling couple end up doing? They get divorced.

    May 15, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  7. miri chorev

    I am not happy with the way the administration handled the Bengazi issue"s aftermath. But, i do believe that the republicans are just looking fior an excuse to further obstract this government. They failed, twice, to convince the public that they are worthy of holding the presidential office, so they are trying to sabotage. I still hear the sigh of relief Cheny had when Obama decided to let the past go and to not open an invesigation. While learning from the mistakes is essential, the bengazi case is not enough for impeachment. The republicans lost becuse they were percieved for putting party before country. If they will continue doing this, they will be in the desert fo much longer.

    May 15, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  8. Impeachalltherottenrepublicans

    The republican party is a shadow of its former self. I wont say all, but clearly many in office now are just chumps. Maybe it's our fault, and we need some reforms so better people will be willing to serve. But this Benghazi charade is a great example why all of the chumps involved need to be thrown out of office, really they deserve much worse for undermining and making a mockery of our political processes so no problems get solved, money gets wasted, the economy gets ruined – it is really treason. TREASON CHARGES AGAINST THESE SUBVERSIVES!!

    May 15, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  9. Volntyr

    Fine, Impeach Obama. Impeach him til you are blue in the face but in order to that, you have to allow your savior, GW Bush, Dark Lord Cheney, John "Mr. Torture" Yoo and anyone else in the last administration to be tried in the World Court for War Crimes

    May 15, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  10. John Tater

    They "scrubbed mention of al Qaida" because they didn't know at that point if al Qaida was involved. Congress, afraid that some foreign aid money might go to sinful famlly planning in Haiti or wherever, whacks State Department's budget to the point they're lucky if the embassies have a fence, let alone enough guards to fight off a massive attack. This is all political, a continuation of the effort to make sure nothing gets done during the Obama administration at all costs, costs that are borne by us. People need to stop campaigning long enough to do a little governing.

    May 15, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  11. korkea aika

    The republican reckless and unsuccessful impeachment of Bill Clinton was the beginning of the poisoned atmosphere we now have in our country. Before that, Bush 1 and the democratic speaker of the house Tip O'neill were always able to hammer out deals and move our country forward. Then came the republican strategy of 'if we can't win at the ballot box, we'll try to impeach'. And here we have it, the Republican party is so bankrupt of ideas and policies that americans can buy into, that they're still stuck in the mud. So try to impeach Obama on Benghazi and see where it gets you. It will do nothing more than remind us of GW Bush / Cheney / Rummy who invaded IRAQ based on lies & squandered blood and treasure.

    May 15, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  12. bobhamiltonchicago

    I did not realize that Congressman Chaffetz could impeach the President all by himself. I would like to suggest that this story may be taking a partisan tilt based on politics and not on the facts.

    May 15, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  13. Bill Davenport

    For those who want to hang Obama over the tragedy in Libya last September, I'd merely ask if they remember Lebanon in 1983? Did congressional Democrats start talking up impeachment of Reagan after our embassy in Beruit as well as the Marine barracks were bombed, resulting in the loss of hundreds of brave Americans? No. We worked together as Americans to prevent future attacks. Enough said.

    May 15, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  14. John

    Okay, why do we mention impeachment on this incident when we lost ~3000 troops and have killed thousands of iraqi civilians in the Iraq War when it was founded on lies and faulty evidence? Are we insane here? Republicans only want to tarnish the american system in order to get into office. They shoot down anything democrats support, even if they agree! Now we are talking about impeaching Obama. This is ridiculous, they are power fiends who will stop at nothing to manipulate their way into power.

    May 15, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  15. rankershlank

    Obama isn't doing enough to make the rich richer so the GOP is creating a scandal instead doing actual work. Nothing new here.

    May 15, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  16. pjoe

    If during the Watergate cover-up, Nixon's Secretary of State (Henry Kissenger) had testified to Congress & told Congress "What possible difference does it make? ... " ... I bet a young lawyer named Hillary Rodham would have been very disturbed by such arrogance.

    May 15, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  17. CJ

    I think the public is getting tired of this nonsense. The Republican Party is beginning to shoot themselves in the foot.

    What cover-up? The fact that they didn't immediately come out with all the details of how it all went down? Maybe information was held back until it could be 100% confirmed on the ground. In any case, at the end of the day, it was called a terrorist attack. Just because they didn't rush troops in there immediately is not grounds for impeachment. It may be a mishandling, and new rules might need to be written on how to react in a situation where an embassy is in eminent danger, but the fact that this WITCH HUNT continuously is trying to blame a high ranking democrat, rather than trying to focus on developing new policies and strategies to deal with a similar situation in the future, is frustrating and partisan politics at its worst.

    I hope everyday Americans can see what Washington has turned into, where any slip-up, mistake, or error in judgment means tying up the courts for 8 months straight. I don't think the Republican Party has been so passionate or poured so much effort into fixing this country as they have in trying to divide it and bring down the Democratic Party through "BenghaziGate".

    May 15, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  18. Mike

    It's all about winning elections instaed of the will of the people. Our political parties are a joke, both of them. Each year it gets worse. They are puttting us on the fast track to self-destruction.

    May 15, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  19. Shayna

    Democrats talked amongst themselves about how this was going to affect them politically, especially just before an election? I am shocked, what politician would ponder how this tragedy would affect them?

    Oh the shame of it all, the misinformation that was initially fed to the American people was corrected within 2 weeks. Impeach! Resign! This is a cover-up that compares to Watergate & Iran-Contra. If any of you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

    May 15, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  20. scott

    Any President should be impeached if they break the law...Period. Look if the president was under attack in Libya instead of 4 low level americans they would have been on the ground there so fast its not even funny. So why are 4 americans not worth the effort to save while being attacked by terrorists? Tough question but tough questions need to be asked and asnwered

    May 15, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  21. tammyleg

    Ahhhhhh.....Mr. Pot...I'd like to introduce you to Mr. Kettle.

    May 15, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  22. Pete

    Yes Chaffetz you are ruling in impeachment of Pres.Obama or you wouldn't have stated it publicly ..Just where was your ilk when Bush was running rough shot over this country creating unfunded wars ,starting enormous recessions that haven't been seen since the last depression again by a republican president in Hoover.If you and you collegues think you'll get away with this you're sadly mistaken because you'll learn aftervmidterms how we handle your kind and it won't be with a W after your collegues names either I predict..Just say impeachment again and maybe Pres.Obama and company will investigate you and your shady Issa that dirty business in California and it couldn't happen to a more unlikeable guy as Issa the ecumenical or your party ,like it or not!!

    May 15, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  23. NameRolph

    News flash
    GOP attempts to impeach Obama for not double knotting his shoe laces.
    Yes, they are that pathetic. Their motto is we can do it to you but don't even think of doing it to us.
    GOP stands for generically oppressive poops

    May 15, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  24. Secession is the Answer

    Impeachment followed by imprisonment for this war criminal in the White House.

    May 15, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  25. rankershlank

    Bush allowed 9/11 to happen which caused thousands of lives. Then starts two wars, one of which was totally illegal and based on lies told to the American people, that costs thousands of lies. So what do republicans do? Create a massive scandal, based on lies and false testimony of witnesses that the GOP keep in their pocket, from an incident that killed 4 people. If they really wanted to earn my respect, hold the Bush administration accountable for allowing 9/11 to happen an then starting an illegal and highly tragic war.

    May 15, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
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