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Constitutional Scholar Rob Natelson Weighs in on Impeachment Talk Regarding President Obama [AUDIO]

Impeachment Talk Swirls Around President Obama
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Barack Obama’s administration has come under fire on several fronts over the past few weeks, from The 9-11 attacks that killed four State Department personnel in Banghazi, to the IRS, to the Justice Department’s inquiry into the Associated Press. Some commentators have even broached the subject of the President’s possible impeachment.

Constitutional scholar, Senior Fellow for Constitutional Studies at the Independence Institute, and former law professor at the University of Montana Rob Natelson starts by defining impeachment.

“I think its important to define what impeachment is, and isn’t,” Natelson said. “There are two opposite errors that are bandied about. Some people say that impeachment is whatever the House of Representatives decides it is, and then , there are others that say impeachment requires the actual performance of a crime. It actually falls somewhere in between. Impeachment is a remedy for breach of trust.”

Natelson said talk of impeachment is premature at this point.

“For example, the focus may be on the President’s negligence or his inattention to duty, in addition to any crimes that may have been committed,” Natelson said. “Was this President unusually derelict in his duty? That would be relevant to the matter of impeachment.”

Natelson noted that the incident in Banghazi primarily revolves around former First Lady Hillary Clinton, whose husband was the last president to be impeached. He said there are some important lessons to be learned from that piece of history.

“No president can be successfully impeached unless significant numbers of people from both major parties are on board,” Natelson said. “For example, Richard Nixon was going to be impeached by the House of Representatives, and the Democrats were the ones that led the charge. Then, a very famous delegation of Republicans, headed by Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, who went to the White House and told President Nixon the game is up.” The result was President Nixon’s resignation from office.

Natelson pointed out that the exact opposite situation occurred with the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

“Bill Clinton was impeached by the House, for what in retrospect appear to be real crimes, because perjury is a felony,” Natelson said. “Not a single Democrat in the Senate, however, was willing to vote for conviction. The fact is that effort to remove Mr. Clinton from office because not a single Democrat, the President’s party, was willing to peel off and rise above partisanship.”

Getting back to President Obama, Natelson referred to the controversy over the Associated Press, as being particularly dangerous to the administration.

“The subpoena against the Associated Press certainly has to be seen as a major political misstep, because this is an attack on a group of people often identified as the President’s allies,” Natelson said. “However, lately, the press has become increasingly impatient with the President. So, when you take into account he is into his second term, that people no longer fear that he will be reelected, and the fact that this does not appear to be a particularly competent White House, then, yes, there are going to be some more problems down the line for him.”

Constitutional Scholar Rob Natelson of the Independence Institute

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