Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 30, 2015

Obama ‘Perilously Close’ to Impeachment, Coburn Says


(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama is “perilously close” to impeachment, Sen. Tom Coburn told a town hall crowd this week.

The Oklahoma Republican qualified his remarks by saying the Obama administration suffers more from incompetence than it does from willful violations of law.

Still, Coburn said at the Muskogee event that although Barack Obama is a “personal friend,” he is on track to throw the country into a constitutional crisis and that perhaps a constitutional convention should be called to rewrite the government’s foundational document.

It was a passionate performance in front of an applauding conservative crowd from a guy who’s supposedly not running for re-election.

“What you have to do is you have to establish the criteria that would qualify for proceedings against the president, and that’s called impeachment,” Coburn said, in response to a question about Obama’s accountability. “That’s not something you take lightly, and you have to use a historical precedent of what that means. I think there’s some intended violation of the law in this administration, but I also think there’s a ton of incompetence, of people who are making decisions.

“I believe [an impeachment charge] needs to be evaluated and determined, but thank goodness it doesn’t have to happen in the Senate until they’ve brought charges in the House,” Coburn said. “Those are serious things, but we’re in a serious time. I don’t have the legal background to know if that rises to high crimes and misdemeanor, but I think they’re getting perilously close.”

To back his claim of  administrative incompetence, Coburn cited the example of Obama’s 15 picks for top Homeland Security vacancies, saying “a general portion of the nominees are absolutely incompetent.”

Despite questions over the legality of the Obama administration, Coburn has taken some positions against tea party conservatives. He is one of the leading voices against trying to shut down the government over funding the health care law (“It’s not an achievable strategy. It’s creating the false impression that you can do something when you can’t. And it’s dishonest,” he said.) and he helped negotiate a permanent fix to federal student loan rates.

Coburn and Obama were both elected to the Senate in 2004 and have been personally cordial since Obama entered the White House, and the Oklahoma Republican said as much to constituents in his talk.

“Barack Obama is a personal friend of mine. He became my friend in the Senate. But that does not mean that I agree in any way with what he’s doing or how he’s doing it. And I quite frankly think he’s in a difficult position he’s put himself in and if it continues, I think we’re going to have another constitutional crisis in terms of the presidency.”

It’s unclear how close the two will remain after Coburn’s claim that Obama could be ousted from office.

Comments (65)

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  1. Rick Roberts

    Aug. 22, 2013
    5:52 p.m.

    He’s just pandering to the audience he’s in front of at the moment. I can’t take it seriously.

  2. Victoria Walker Massey

    Aug. 23, 2013
    6:22 a.m.

    These morans (sic) better not try to convene and “re-write” our Constitution. It was written by men, the likes of which are unknown in today’s ugly politics of money, people who care about their small group’s triumph more than they care about what is best for America. The Founders were Enlightened men, products of a more enlightened time, despite the fact that they failed miserably on slavery. Do not touch my Constitution, right wing nuts. I believe folks in the middle and on the Left will come together to save the greatest achievement in human history.

    • Charles Means

      Aug. 23, 2013
      10 a.m.

      Which part of the Constitution would you like to keep?

      The Balance of powers between the states and the federal government? that was abandoned by progressives years ago.

      How about the Sovereignty of the states?, nope gone after the civil war.

      How about the separation of powers between the three branches of government? those lines have blurred over the years.

      How about the House doing the peoples work? Almost all politicians are slaves to the money masters and care very little about the general population (Democrats and Republicans).

      How about the protections from the government, that a state appointed senate was supposed to protect? Nope gone in 1913.

      There have been so many problems over time with violations and restrictions on freedom and liberty. The federal government has grown to a monstrosity that is encroaching on all aspects of our lives. This was not the intent of the founding fathers, or the founding documents.

      Unfortunately, this problem has been the idea of progressives for 150 years, and is carried on by todays liberals.

      Maybe rewrite the constitution is the wrong phrasing to use, but we the people need to get back to the idea that the founders envisioned.

      Freedom and Liberty for all citizens of the US, limited government, and personal responsibility.

      • Victoria Walker Massey

        Aug. 23, 2013
        10:18 p.m.

        I know what you mean, but a Constitutional Convention would have the power to make the most important parts vulnerable to pea-brained government operatives, which is what our representative government has been taken over by. Let’s wait until we have some real statement and women before we expose it to a butcher knife. Nothing is perfect, but I cannot reject or belittle the lessons and contributions of the Enlightenment. They should, however, had had the courage to make sure slavery had no place in an enlightened project. It has taken so long for freedom and the vote for women was too long in coming. But my real point is that these current poorly educated, ignorant and proud of it, politicians should not tinker with something that is so over their heads. I’d rather see us deal the the Constitution’s problems as a society than as a radically empowered constitutional convention. Lest’s always save but consistently enforce the Fourth Amendment and the Fourteenth, for just an example. All these political souls seeking power and money and just winning, just winning make us need a written document to slow down their gutting of our freedoms. I am very much a Leftie, not a Right Wing Constitutional type. You said it well “get back to the idea that the founders envisioned” but I add it must now include more that aristocratic white men.

        • SickofStupidPeople

          Aug. 26, 2013
          10:59 a.m.

          you do understand how a constitutional convention works don’t you? It is not the Congress but the States that must ratify any new constitution.

        • RickyBombastic

          Aug. 29, 2013
          2:30 p.m.

          You have no understanding of the amendment process. The founders made it purposefully hard for an amendment to happen. If it were to happen, there would have to be overwhelming support for it.
          And when we “right wingers” say get back to the founding fathers, we specifically mean their principles of liberty and a limited federal government. Obviously that is for all people, even those who were previously denied. The founding fathers were inconsistent in the practice of their beliefs. Now that has been corrected. Liberty, however, is being curtailed by a president who couldn’t care less for it.

          Just some violations of his administration.
          -religious liberty- (HHS Mandate to for churches to provide abortifacients).
          – fourth amendment (NSA data collection)
          – the IRS targetting of conservative groups
          (IRS commisioner visits to white house under Bush:1.
          Under Obama: 150. That should tell you something)
          -Obamacare’s mandate to buy health insurance. The SCOTUS was wrong in changing the law. It’s still unconstitutional.

        • eagleeyezeke

          Aug. 29, 2013
          8:28 p.m.

          The Founding “Fathers” restricted the government to a minority of males that owned sizeable estates. Off limits to everyone else. That was what the Electorial College was all about. The so call fathers considered females inferior and nearly all had slaves.

  3. Andre Leonard

    Aug. 23, 2013
    9:01 a.m.

    Though millions of Americans would like to see this happen. What Mr. Coburn is describing is pure partisan wrangling and baiting.

    Neither Mr. Coburn or any of his colleagues have any intention of bringing this issue forward. It’s for publicity only.

    • RickyBombastic

      Aug. 29, 2013
      2:34 p.m.

      You are right though, in saying that it is an issue. Obama’s administration has gone too far the american people need to wake up.

  4. nrnowlin

    Aug. 23, 2013
    9:46 a.m.

    Like the old biblical scripture goes, “Evil communications corrupt good manners.” Obama has shown his true colors as a traitor to the U.S. Constitution, and if his long-form birth certificate, posted on the White house website, is a fraud and forgery, the fact that Hawaiian authorities cannot produce a birth certificate for him adduces that Obama is an ilegally elected President, and that he is not a natural-born citizen. This is much, much worse than Nixon’s Watergate and Clinton’s sex scandal that warranted impeachment. If Coburn is friends with Obama, and he says that he’s incompetent, but not fraudulent, there is something rotten in the state of Denmark, as Shakespeare would say.
    If Coburn won’t admit that Obama is “not” a natural-born citizen, that he has posted a fraudulent birth certificate, that he violated the U.S. Constitution with his Libyan war, that he, and Eric Holder, lied about “Fast and Furious,” that he has used his expense account and Air Force 1 for illegal purposes, and that Obama was running guns in Benghazie and was responsible, along with Hillary Clinton, for what happened there, his good manners have been corrupted by his evil communications with Barack Obama.
    As Andrew Jackson so appropriately commented, “Washington DC has a way of turning basically good people into stinkingly corrupt human beings.”

    • johnblack45john

      Aug. 23, 2013
      2:25 p.m.

      And you have just showed your sheer stupidity. This man taught constitutional law at a major college in this country. If he were violating the constitution in anyway I am sure he would be aware of it. He was elected twice both times with better than 50% of the vote He is as legally an elected president as all the ones before him. So you save your stupid bagger birther nonsense for somebody dumb enough to believe it. And if your tea party hero Ted Cruz is a naturalized American citizen then so is this president . Both their mothers are American born and the President was born in Hawaii and where was Cruz born? Canada.. And if Holder lied about F&F why did Issa come on national TV on the Sunday morning talk shows and say he has no evidence connecting Holder or the President to it? What illegal purpose did he use AF 1 for? Where is your proof of gun running by this President? You must be confusing him with Reagan selling guns to Iran to finance his war in Nicaragua. The congressional hearing clearly showed that the CIA is responsible for Benghazi not the President, Mrs Clinton or the State Department. You need to take your blind hatred for this president and seek the help you so desperately need. Anytime you have to make up out and out lies on anybody because you hate them so much you have a serious problem.

      • SickofStupidPeople

        Aug. 26, 2013
        11:03 a.m.

        this “This man taught constitutional law at a major college in this country. If he were violating the constitution is any way I am sure he would be aware of it,” is one of the dumbest comments I have ever read on the internet. Congratulations, you win the most moronic internet post award. What does this statement have to do with anything posted before it. People are aware murder and bank robbery are illegal, doesn’t stop them from committing those crimes. If your point is that if Obama knew he was in violation of Constitution he would step down, the you sir are a complete failure as a human being.

        • johnblack45john

          Aug. 26, 2013
          5:49 p.m.

          And you are about as dumb as a box of rocks. Why don’t you try improving your severely flawed comprehension skills then you might grasp what I posted. Ad please point out just how he violated the constitution since you seem to be the Beck School law school graduate that knows all about it. Go ahead dumba** and enlighten us just how he has done it. Go ahead. This ought to be good. You sir I not only a sick human being but you are totally stupid as well. Turn off Fox News and read a book.

        • johnblack45john

          Aug. 26, 2013
          5:51 p.m.

          And if you really are SICKOFSTUPIDPEOPLE do us all a favor and commit suicide.

          • RickyBombastic

            Aug. 29, 2013
            2:12 p.m.

            Waaay too far.

      • Nan

        Aug. 30, 2013
        8:06 p.m.

        What passport did he use to travel to Pakistan when that was illegal for US citizens?

  5. A.F. Meincke

    Aug. 23, 2013
    10:08 a.m.

    Oklahoma, that says it all!

  6. sam

    Aug. 23, 2013
    11:05 a.m.

    In North Carolina a Republican sweep has rewritten and passed bills to make Republicans the winning party year after year. If Republicans took over the national government, the people would be in deep trouble.

    • headhunter56

      Aug. 27, 2013
      7:05 p.m.

      So you don’t think we are in trouble now?

  7. ian807

    Aug. 23, 2013
    12:36 p.m.

    A conservative republican suggesting that an incumbent democratic president should be impeached. Yes, quite original. I’m sure the entire country is surprised and concerned.


  8. johnblack45john

    Aug. 23, 2013
    2:08 p.m.

    First off to be impeached you must first commit a crime. What crime has this president committed? Last I checked being a Black guy in the White House wasn’t a crime. And second how can this mitwit senator call anybody incompetent when he is a part of the worst congress in American history? This is like the pot calling the kettle black.

  9. John Ramos

    Aug. 23, 2013
    11:38 p.m.

    If we enjoy the liberty to sow our resources in risky fields, such as research and development, then the only rewards we can morally reap are those proportional to the usefulness of our endeavor’s end results.

  10. Feeb

    Aug. 24, 2013
    4:04 a.m.

    Mr. Coburn should be in jail for black mail or in the loony bin for being insane.

  11. George Ramos

    Aug. 25, 2013
    5:44 a.m.

    Most of the benefits of modern civilization result from our own ability to make use of more knowledge than we could ever know personally.

  12. Benjamin Dover

    Aug. 27, 2013
    5:24 a.m.

    The term “rule of law” is used to describe rules, such as those defined in the United States’ Constitution, designed to preserve liberty by placing limits upon centralized government’s power to coerce and control.

  13. Bill_USA

    Aug. 27, 2013
    5:11 p.m.

    If a day goes by and we don’t here something insane from the land of the OuterSpace caucus I would think something went wrong in D.C. The Republicans are in regions of outer space ‘where no man has gone before’. But their musings are good for comic relief.

  14. micurmudgeon

    Aug. 29, 2013
    3:57 p.m.

    Obama is no friend of mine and I would vote to impeach for incompetence in failure to enforce the laws and Constitution of the USA.

  15. eagleeyezeke

    Aug. 29, 2013
    8:22 p.m.

    Throughout my life, it has always been the lesser of two evils. The first time I voted it was for one of my choice – Adlie Stevenson. Brilliant but boring. The American voter prefers a movie star with charisma and little or no intellect. The first time I voted for Obama, it was with overwhelming enthusiasm. However, I was quickly disillusioned. There was no difference between him and Bush. Both war presidents, both pawns of Wall Street and the Big Corporations.

  16. Nan

    Aug. 30, 2013
    6:56 p.m.

    And don’t forget tapping Congress. Perhaps the judiciary was tapped as well, which would explain why Obamacare was determined to be lega;.

    • Ali Razeghi

      Aug. 30, 2013
      7:49 p.m.

      Good call Nan, I forgot about tapping Congress. Apparently, Bin Ladin’s ghost is also going to send information through US congressmen.

      Obamacare was apparently not challenged as certain backers got behind Roberts and ‘pressured’ him to reconsider. If you recall, all the news was about how Roberts sided this way. I haven’t verified this independently, but I give it credence.

      I am a Democrat, and Obama is destroying our country and party even worse than Bush 43 did!! We must get rid of this mad man to save the party and country.

      • Nan

        Aug. 30, 2013
        7:57 p.m.

        Maybe he could just have a seance and see if he could raise Bin Laden’s ghost? All you need is a paneled room, crystal ball and a charlatan. Or take the cheap way out and buy a ouija board. You still need a charlatan though. Do you think it would be difficult to find one in DC?

  17. noelle20102

    Sept. 7, 2013
    5:35 p.m.

    remove obama now!

  18. Victoria Walker Massey

    Sept. 28, 2013
    2:49 a.m.

    Dear Sick of Stupid People: Nobody was talking about the amendment process. Yes, dear, I know how that works. But a constitutional convention is a whole other ball game.

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