President Obama's Executive Order On Immigration Could Get Him Impeached

Hey, we were all thinking it, he just said it. Speaking at a breakfast with The Christian Science Monitor Friday, President Obama's senior adviser Dan Pfieffer said the GOP might launch impeachment proceedings against President Obama. And the reason Pfieffer thinks the impeachment could be set off could have huge political implications for millions of people — he's talking about a yet-unknown executive order on immigration, to be (hopefully) signed by Obama after this summer.

While there's no telling what exactly the executive order would contain, it's become clear of late that the administration has something big planned — or at least, they've been talking that way. In a June 30 press conference, Obama announced his intention to "fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own, without Congress," conceding that months and months of negotiation on an immigration bill had fallen apart.

Speaker John Boehner was apparently unhappy with Pfeiffer's prediction. Responding to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's impeachment calls on July 9, Boehner publicly opposed the idea, but he's nonetheless pressing a lawsuit from Congress against Obama's executive actions. Michael Steel responded to Pfeiffer in an email to the Monitor:

This is a fundraising exercise for Democrats. It is telling, and sad, that a senior White House official is focused on political games, rather than helping these kids and securing the border.

What Dan Pfeiffer can do to "help these kids" without supporting an executive order on immigration is anybody's guess — Steel's boss is holding the keys to that car more than anyone. Regardless, whether his prediction comes true likely depends on the intended effect of Boehner's lawsuit against the President. In the days and weeks since it was announced, a lot of ink was spilled on whether it's building the foundation for an impeachment effort, or Boehner's way of appeasing his hard-right membership to prevent an impeachment.

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They're not necessarily mutually exclusive, either. Even if Boehner wants no part of impeachment, he's in a state of sore disagreement with a majority of Republican voters. A CNN poll released Friday showed 57 percent of Republicans support impeaching President Obama, compared to just 33 percent of the general public.

That contrast might reveal Boehner's biggest fear — that the GOP is a hell of a lot more eager to impeach than the public at large, and any genuine and sustained effort to do so could generate a huge backlash for his party.

Though, let's be honest. Boehner's spokesman isn't entirely wrong when he suggests Pfeiffer's remarks were political — given those numbers, the administration has every incentive to make it clear just how seriously they're taking the threat of impeachment. And given the politics of the immigration issue, the benefits of a sweeping, limit-pressing order are obvious. As Pheiffer also said at his breakfast, according to the Monitor:

Are they going to go back and try to pass comprehensive immigration reform, [after] which the president will rip up whatever executive action he does the day they pass that? Or are they basically going to set themselves up for the next two and a half years here to be arguing to elect a Republican in order to deport all these people?

So, it sounds like two of the biggest political stories going right now — Boehner's legal challenge to Obama's authority on executive orders, and the intractible struggle for immigration reform — are going to smash into each other in a big way sometime after the summer. Whether it'll actually lead to impeachment is too soon to say, but this much has been made clear: the White House doesn't mind mentioning it, and Boehner would rather they didn't.

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