CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Republican member of the House of Representatives said he thinks there are likely enough votes to bring articles of impeachment against President Barack Obama but did not specify on what charges.
Rep. Blake Farenthold said the House could impeach the president while responding to a “birther” question from a constituent in his home Texas district that includes Corpus Christi. Farenthold said that while the House likely has the votes, the Senate trial would end in an acquittal for Obama.
In a YouTube video shot at a constituent town hall in Lulling, Texas dated Aug. 10, Farenthold takes a question from an unidentified woman who asks him to support members of the so-called birther movement who question Obama’s legitimacy as president. The video was first reported by Buzzfeed.
Birthers argue that Obama was not born in the United States and doubt the short and long-form birth certificates he has produced proving he was born in Hawaii. In April 2011, Obama released his long-form birth certificate from Hawaii to quell speculation that he was not a U.S. citizen and may be constitutionally ineligible to serve as president. He had previously released a certification of live birth during the 2008 campaign. Both documents show that he was born in a Hawaii hospital on August 4, 1961. Contemporaneously published newspaper announcements also noted the birth in the Aloha State.
After that release, a May 2011 poll by Gallup found that 13% of Americans still incorrectly thought Obama was probably or definitely born in another country.
“This issue hits to the belly of the beast,” the woman tells Farenthold, anger apparent in her voice.
For his part, Farenthold responded that “the horse is already out of the barn on this, on the whole birth certificate issue,” he said.
“The original Congress, when his [Obama's] eligibility came up should have looked into this and they didn’t. I’m not sure how we fix it.”
In the video, Farenthold said that impeaching Obama is a question he frequently hears from his constituents.
Presidential impeachment is a two-part process, first requiring the House of Representatives to vote to bring articles of impeachment. If the House does so, the matter then moves to the Senate for trial where a vote would determine guilt or innocence for the President.
According to Farenthold, there are probably enough votes in the House for a successful impeachment but not enough in the Senate for a conviction. He didn’t cite any charges that would have to be brought.
Farenthold cited the failed effort at impeaching President Bill Clinton, arguing that in its failure, the impeachment was harmful to the country.
“What message do we send to America if we impeach Obama and he gets away with what he’s impeached for and he’s found innocent? What do we say (if what) he did is OK,” Farenthold said.
“Aside from the fact it wouldn’t be effective, I think there’s a potential damage to society that would be done with a failed attempt at impeachment.”
Just two Presidents have ever been impeached by the House of Representatives, Clinton in 1998 and Andrew Johnson in 1868. Both men were acquitted in their Senate trials.
Farenthold’s communications director, Meaghan Cronin, told CNN that the representative’s comments were simply in reaction to a concerned constituent and amounted to little more than an “I’ll look into it” response that all constituents get. Farenthold has been taking a variety of questions at town halls, Cronin said.
“People’s unhappiness with the president was brought up in several different ways,” Cronin said.
Farenthold was first elected to the House in 2010 on the wave of tea party conservatives. One of the wealthiest members of that class, according to his website he is the founder of a computer consulting and web design firm and has worked as an attorney and conservative radio commentator.