House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) warned Republicans will
investigate President Obama's birthplace if they take over Congress.
Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House, said Republicans will grind the government to a halt by issuing subpoenas against the Obama administration over a number of issues if they take power. He predicted that "gridlock" in Congress would "define" Obama's first term if Republicans win the House, but expressed confidence his party would prevail.
Clyburn noted that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the ranking Republican on the House Oversight panel, has said will will issue "subpoenas everywhere" if Republicans win the majority.
"The White House will be full-time responding to subpoenas about where the president may or may not have been born, whether his mother and father were ever married, and whether his wife's family is from Georgetown or Sampit," Clyburn said in an interview published Monday on TheGrio.com, an African-American news website. "That will define the next two years of the president's administration.
Issa has promised to ramp up his probes into the Obama administration, but his spokesman said he would not pursue the "birther" controversy and that the congressman has not spoken about the issue.
"The Democratic Caucus doesn’t take Jim Clyburn seriously – Americans shouldn’t take his ridiculous claims seriously either," said Issa spokesman Kurt Bardella in an e-mail. Bardella noted that Issa has already released his "blueprint for oversight" that focuses on investigating the expansion of government.
Clyburn spokeswoman Kristie Greco called Bardella's point a "nervous overreaction."
"Perhaps he [Bardella] would like us to forget that the former Chairman of Government Oversight, Rep. Burton [R-Ind.], is a co-sponsor of the birther bill and Reps. McHenry [R-N.C.] and Fortenberry [R-Neb.] have raised question about the origin of the President’s birth. Does Darrell Issa take his fellow committee members seriously?” Greco wrote in an e-mail.
Some Republican congressional candidates and lawmakers have raised questions about Obama's country of birth and citizenship since he took office. Activists who have expressed skepticism of Obama's American citizenship have been labeled "birthers."
The so-called birther bill, or H.R. 1503, is a measure that would require proof of citizenship from presidential candidates. It was introduced by Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.) in March 2009.
Obama was born in Hawaii, and the White House released a digitally scanned image of his birth certificate. But that has failed to silence arguments that he was not born in the U.S.
In the minority, Issa has gone after the administration on several issues including their alleged intervention in the Pennsylvania and Colorado Democratic Senate primaries.
But Clyburn suggested that those investigations will turn from political issues into Obama's personal life if the GOP takes over the House.
Clyburn blamed conservative media for the phenomenon and said others could rebut those views if the Fairness Doctrine, a government policy abolished in the 1980s that required broadcasters to give both sides equal time on political programs, was still in place.
"Twenty-five years ago, we didn't have Rush Limbaugh spewing hate all day, every day, and others on the radio, and we didn't have a TV station dedicated to misrepresenting the facts and people making $20 million to go out and say what they know not to be true," he said. "This has created an atmosphere of toxicity."
This post was updated at 5:35 p.m.