Chaffetz doesn't rule out impeachment for Obama over Benghazi

CNN
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 8:43am

Rep. Jason Chaffetz reiterated Tuesday that the impeachment of President Barack Obama is possible as the White House faces scrutiny over its role in responding to the terror attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.

"Look, it's not something I'm seeking," the Republican congressman from Utah said on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer." "It's not the endgame; it's not what we're playing for. I was simply asked, is that within the realm of possibilities, and I would say 'yes.' I'm not willing to take that off the table. But that's certainly not what we're striving for."

Chaffetz first said impeachment could be an option in an interview published Monday by the Salt Lake Tribune.

"We want truth," Chaffetz said on CNN. "We want to have the president do what he has said he would always do, and that is, be open and transparent. Thus far, the White House has not done that."

Republicans' accusations of an administration-led coverup in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi attack were fueled last week by the release of internal e-mails showing that top administration officials scrubbed any mention of al Qaeda from talking points given to members of Congress and Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

The unclassified talking points have become a political flashpoint in a long-running battle between the administration and Republicans, who say that officials knew the attack was a planned terror operation while they were telling the public it was an act of violence that grew out of a demonstration over an anti-Islam video.

Asked Tuesday about critics who compare the controversy to Watergate, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that "people who make those kind of comparisons need to check their history."

"What we have here with one issue, in Benghazi, is so clearly ... a political sideshow, a deliberate effort to politicize a tragedy," Carney said, echoing comments that Obama made Monday.

Chaffetz, who sits on the House Oversight Committee that heard testimony last week from three State Department employees who were dissatisfied with the administration's handling of the attack, said the White House is simply trying to "demoralize" and take out the messenger.

"We heard from three very credible witnesses with more than 70 years of public service saying that what happened on the ground versus what the White House would lead us to believe were two totally different things," he said.

The House of Representatives has the power to impeach a federal official by handing down charges called articles of impeachment. The Senate then tries the official and determines whether to remove the individual from office. For example, President Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998 over perjury allegations stemming from his sexual relationship with a White House intern, but the Senate acquitted him.

CNN's Ashley Killough and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

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