GOP: Obama fundraising off impeachment

The White House is talking up impeachment to drive up its fundraising, the third-ranking House Republican leader said Sunday.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) repeatedly dodged questions on "Fox News Sunday" about whether the House Republicans would impeach Obama, saying it's the White House that is raising the subject.

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"You know this might be the first White House in history that is trying to start narrative of impeaching its own president," Scalise told Fox News host Chris Wallace.

Wallace had asked Scalise if House Republicans would consider impeaching Obama if the president takes action to end deportations of more people who immigrated to the United States illegally.

Scalise did not directly answer that question, but made it clear that there are no plans to impeach Obama.

"The White House wants to talk about impeachment, they want to go out and fundraise off of that," said Scalise, the newly-elected House GOP Whip. "The White House will do anything to change the topic from the president's failed agenda.

When pressed further on impeachment talk, Scalise said House Republican leadership "may put options on the table to allow the House to take legal actions against the president."

Democrats in the House quickly put out a release emphasizing that Scalise had not ruled out impeachment.

“The fact that the third-highest-ranking Republican in the House is refusing to rule out impeachment offers a stunning view of the extreme measures this Republican Congress will take to push their reckless partisan agenda,” said the head of the House Democratic campaign arm, Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.). “Republicans will spend the final week before their summer vacation plotting their lawsuit against the President, and now Scalise just made it clear that impeachment is absolutely on the table for House Republicans.”

On Friday, the White House said it was taking talk of impeachment seriously. Dan Pfeiffer, a senior adviser to Obama said he "would not discount the possibility."

House Republicans this week will vote on legislation authorizing a lawsuit against Obama's use of executive action, including his decision to delay the employer health insurance mandate.

That legislation is seen as a response to grass-roots pressure for Republicans to respond to Obama's use of executive actions. 

Former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has called on Republicans to impeach Obama, but leaders in the House see such an effort as endangering their electoral prospects in the midterm elections. 

House Republican efforts to impeach President Clinton backfired badly in the 1998 elections.