A proper understanding of “high crimes and misdemeanors” would make President Barack Obama's lack of action to protect the Benghazi compound impeachable and removable, said former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy.
“The most shocking transgression by this president involves Benghazi, which is a profound dereliction of duty, even though it's not an indictable offense,” McCarthy, author of “Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama's Impeachment” told TheBlaze. “It's simply a fact that the president does not have to be indictable in order to be removable.”
Questions surrounding the 2012 terrorist attack on the Benghazi compound in Libya that resulted in the deaths of four Americans is back in the news again after security contractors stepped up to say they were prevented from trying to defend the compound. A House selected committee continues to investigate.
In response to a question from TheBlaze, McCarthy insisted that violating the separation of powers – which the House of Representatives is suing the Obama administration over – is not the only area where Obama must be held accountable.
“Once you know what impeachable offenses are, when you know what high crimes and misdemeanors are, you look at a president who doesn't defend Americans under terrorist siege for hours notwithstanding that he knew from the earliest part of the assault that a terrorist attack was underway,” he said. “And then you go through other things like Fast and Furious, where you had a Justice Department that actually armed violent Mexican crime syndicates intentionally to try to make cases, separation of powers is a big problem, but it's hardly the only problem.”
Participating in a forum Tuesday sponsored by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, McCarthy – the author of a book on impeaching Obama – sat at a table with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) – whose committee would be the first to review an impeachment inquiry of any federal official.
But neither McCarthy nor Goodlatte advocated for impeachment, even though McCarthy thinks it's legally warranted.
“The only real reason to ever go down the road of impeachment would be to remove a president,” McCarthy said.
“If the president can't be removed from power, I think it's actually a tactical error to begin your way down that road, because what we know would happen would be if the president were impeached in the House and inevitably won his impeachment trial in the Senate, that would be spun by the White House and the media as a vindication of the way that Obama has governed for the last six years,” McCarthy continued. “So far from cracking down executive lawlessness, which is the goal, you would in the end inadvertently more of it.”
Still, McCarthy said the power of the purse and impeachment were the only real tools Congress has against executive lawlessness. He was critical of the House lawsuit that alleges Obama's executive overreach violates separation of powers.
“The interesting thing is we are talking about a president who is lawless, which is the reason you're in court in the first place,” McCarthy said. “The premise of the lawsuit is that the president is going to honor the judgment of the case against him.”
Goodlatte, as the Judiciary chairman, is the point man and defended the lawsuit.
“It was the decision of the leadership that a lawsuit would be appropriate,” Goodlatte said. “I happen to think it's important to get the courts more engaged in protecting the separation of powers and engaged in the protecting the rule of law. If you have the courts on the sidelines saying 'these are political controversies between the Congress and the executive, we are going to stay out of it,' you don't bring to bear all the forces that can hold a president in check.”
He pointed that the House sought executive branch accountability in other case, such as litigating the subpoenaed documents regarding the Operation Fast and Furious, a botched Justice Department program that allowed about 2,000 guns to flow from the U.S. to Mexican drug trafficking organizations.
“The more of these you do, the more the ultimate judgment, the ultimate check, the judgment of the people can be brought to bear,” Goodlatte said.