Farenthold questions presidential impeachment
When the conversation at a recent town hall meeting in Luling turned from immigration and health care to birther conspiracies and presidential impeachment, Congressman Blake Farenthold took the opportunity to embrace both fringe controversies.
"If everybody's so unhappy with what the president's done, why don't you impeach him?" Farenthold asked.
Farenthold represents Victoria in the 27th District of Texas, which spans from Robstown to Bay City and north to Bastrop County.
The Corpus Christi Republican's communications director, Meaghan Cronin, who attended the meeting, said the videos of Farenthold's exchange with a constituent, which were recorded and posted to Youtube, "are very misleading."
Farenthold's comments were "abstract as far as what the charges would be," she said.
"He wasn't saying we're impeaching the president for X, Y and Z; he was speaking hypothetically," Cronin said.
Victoria County Democratic Party Chairwoman Jane Bernal said she wants the congressman to focus on what matters to his constituents - education and the economy, not conspiracies that have been proven wrong.
Bernal said she finds the comments "incredibly insulting."
As for Farenthold's impeachment comment, Bernal said there is no legal basis to impeach the president.
A woman at the informal meeting sparked the comment when she raised her hand to ask the congressman to take a look at her research that she said "proves that a felony has been committed."
Cronin said the congressman agreed to look into it "whether he agrees with the substance of it or not."
"It's his responsibility as a representative in Washington to look into whatever concerns they raise, especially in a public forum like a town hall meeting," she said.
Cronin said neither she nor the congressman has looked through the folder.
While Farenthold never refuted the woman's statements about President Barack Obama's citizenship, he said, "The horse is already out of the barn on this."
Farenthold then used the woman's comments to segue into the topic of impeachment.
"If we were to impeach the president, we would probably get the votes in the House of Representatives to do it," Farenthold said. "But it would go to the Senate, and he wouldn't be convicted."
Cronin said the remark was hypothetical.
"A lot of media has surrounded that, saying the congressman has called for the impeachment of the president," she said.
In the online videos, Farenthold can be heard telling the woman that the original Congress, when Obama's eligibility came up, should have looked into it and didn't.
"I'm not sure how we fix it," Farenthold said.
Farenthold warned against impeachment - not because it could politically damage Republicans or because it was wrong on policy grounds. He said it could legitimize the president's alleged crimes.
"What message do we send to America if we impeach Obama and he gets away with what he's impeached for and he is found innocent?" Farenthold said. "... I think there's some potential damage to society that would be done with a failed attempt at impeachment."
Cronin questioned whether impeaching the president is "what we need to be doing to move the country forward and create jobs and increase opportunities for everyone across the country to create a better life for themselves and their families."
The conversation has passed regarding Obama's citizenship, Cronin said.
"It's not an issue of merit," she said.
Despite that, the woman involved in the exchange remained firm in her stance on the issue she said "hits at the belly of the beast."
"There's something very sinister going on," she said. "It's terrible what's happening."