We haven’t had a good impeachment thread in a while, so why not wind up for a fastball today? No… we’re not talking about the President. In his latest column at USA Today, Glenn Reynolds makes the case that it may be time to impeach the head of the EPA, Gina McCarthy. Sound crazy? Sure… crazy like a fox.
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) has introduced a resolution of impeachment against her because he says she lied during testimony about the EPA’s new clean water rules. Says Gosar: “Perjury before Congress is perjury to the American people and an affront to the fundamental principles of our republic and the rule of law. Such behavior cannot be tolerated. My legislation will hold Administrator McCarthy accountable for her blatant deceptions and unlawful conduct.”
McCarthy is accused of perjuring herself three times, in discussing the scientific and engineering basis for those rules. So, you might wonder, why not just prosecute her for perjury?
The problem is that criminal prosecutions are brought by the executive branch, and there’s not much chance that Obama administration Attorney General Loretta Lynch will bring a perjury prosecution against a fellow member of the administration.
This all sounds lovely in theory and if we lived in a perfect world it would probably be the ideal course of action. As Glenn correctly notes, we most often hear about impeachment when it comes to the President or possibly Supreme Court Justices, but the process can apply to any “civil officer of the United States” which includes the members of the cabinet as well as other department heads. (Ed previously suggested impeaching John Koskinen of the IRS, so we’re not breaking new ground here.) And it’s not as if some of them aren’t asking for it. Nobody was fired over the massive toxic waste spill this summer, just as nobody from the Veterans Administration got the ax for the continuing malpractice taking place there. McCarthy was clearly being disingenuous when she described the effects of expanding the Clean Water Act and that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the deceptions taking place surrounding the power plant emissions scheme.
But could it actually be done? The first obstacle barring the way seems to be the House majority leadership, since a different McCarthy (the Majority Leader) already said there are “no plans” to impeach her. But let’s say for a moment that they managed to bring it to the floor and push it through. They would then need to actually come up with a conviction in the Senate. Does anyone really think that we could get a two thirds majority in the upper chamber to vote to impeach one of Obama’s cabinet members? We can’t even get a vote on defending Planned Parenthood through that crowd.
It’s a great idea in theory, but unfortunately the reality of Washington gridlock has not changed. This would turn into a show vote in the House to impress the base and then simply expire. Of course, I’m not saying they shouldn’t do it. If nothing else it would bring the issue of the horrendous mismanagement of the EPA to the forefront of public discussion for a while, but if the real goal is to remove McCarthy it’s doomed from the start.