Dear readers, the following post is from our AJC colleague Nick Fouriezos:
After national pundits wondered whether U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston would support attempts to impeach President Barack Obama, the Savannah Republican gave us an answer that can only be described as “maybe.”
Kingston is in a GOP Senate runoff with businessman David Perdue, who has already said he doesn’t support impeachment and believes retaking the Senate should be the priority. The vote is Tuesday, which explains why Kingston was at Tommy’s Barber Shop early Friday getting in a final flurry of handshakes.
“I think, number one, the big concern of Congress is to stop the lawlessness of this administration,” Kingston told the AJC. “The president picks and chooses which laws he wants to enforce based on his philosophy, which as you know, the executive branch doesn’t get to do.”
We then asked specifically whether that should include an attempted removal of a sitting president, beginning with articles of impeachment issued by the U.S. House, making specific allegations of constitutional-level examples of misconduct.
“I think our big concern is to stop the lawlessness of this administration,” Kingston said. “The president picks and chooses laws which he wants to enforce, whether it’s on Obamacare or immigration, that’s what our concern is.”
Kingston spokesman Chris Crawford chimed in, adding, “And the fastest way to do that is taking back the Senate, which is what Jack is trying to do now.”
So taking back the Senate is where he would start, and not necessarily with an impeachment bid?
“Yes, that’s correct,” Kingston said. “What we’re trying to do is stop his picking and choosing on laws.”
When asked specifically several times on whether he would push for the president's impeachment, Kingston didn't offer a "yes" or "no" answer.
Kingston’s and Perdue’s stances on the topic are virtually identical – the focus is on winning back a Senate majority. But as a current member of Congress, only Kingston would have a vote to cast if the deed is attempted this year. And while Kingston is cautious about casting a clear opinion on a potential impeachment vote, Perdue’s campaign has already told the Washington Post that the former Fortune 500 executive opposes such a move.
“The best way to rein in the overreaching Obama administration is for Republicans to take back the Senate,” Perdue spokesman Derrick Dickey said to the Post.
In a radio interview two weeks ago with the Aaron McCready Show, which has a niche conservative audience, Kingston said he thought Congress “could go in that direction.”
Kingston risks alienating his base if he comes out strongly against impeachment before the runoff, considering significant conservative distaste for Obama’s policies. But leaving the door open to what many consider is a radical move might turn off independents.
Our take: We wouldn't be surprised if his nuance on the matter shifts after Tuesday.