House Speaker John A. Boehner on Tuesday flatly ruled out trying to impeach President Obama, but the mere possibility — floated by both conservative commentators and the White House itself — has already been a major boon to Democratic fundraising.
Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said they saw their best donations when they fired off a plea for help to defend Mr. Obama against impeachment, collecting $1 million in a single day.
“I think the Republican strategy of lawsuits and impeachment is fundamentally misfiring,” the New York Democrat said. “That just ignites our base in the form of donations, and of calls wanting to volunteer, and in the form of signing pledge cards wanting to vote.”
Mr. Boehner said that fundraising is exactly why Democrats are stirring talk of impeachment — a threat he said has no basis in fact.
“We have no plans to impeach the president. We have no future plans,” Mr. Boehner told reporters. “Listen, it’s all a scam started by Democrats at the White House.”
It was actually an idea floated by conservative commentators, including former vice presidential nominee and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and embraced by some rank-and-file Republican lawmakers and congressional candidates.
But the White House has been eager to talk about it as well, with senior presidential adviser Dan Pfeiffer telling reporters Friday that impeachment was a real possibility that administration officials were concerned about.
Within hours, the DCCC had sent out fundraising emails on the subject, urging donors to give money to Democratic candidates to stop Republicans from impeaching Mr. Obama and saying Democrats were “freaking out ” about impeachment.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest was asked if they had coordinated with the DCCC. “Not that I’m aware of,” he replied.
Mr. Earnest went on to read the names of a number of congressional Republicans who have raised the prospect of impeachment, while the DCCC circulated a list of them.
Among those Republicans who have urged impeachment is Rep. Randy Weber, Texas Republican, who said at a Heritage Foundation event this month that “the president deserves to be impeached, plain and simple.”
On Tuesday, Mr. Weber shrugged off the Democrats using his words against his party.
“I’m glad to see they are paying attention,” he said, adding that he stands by his remarks, but thinks impeachment should wait until after the November election, when Republican could win control of the Senate and get closer to the two-thirds majority needed to convict.
“We want to be wise about it. Right now is not the time,” said Mr. Weber.
The Constitution gives the House the responsibility of drawing up articles of impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors, and gives the Senate the duty to hear the case and vote on whether to remove the president from office.
Only two presidents have been impeached: Andre Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. In both cases, the Senate voted not to convict.
While GOP leaders say they aren’t pursuing impeachment, they have scheduled a vote Wednesday to authorize the House to sue Mr. Obama over his claims of executive powers.
Mr. Earnest said Congress should be tackling other issues in its final week before a monthlong summer vacation.
• Dave Boyer contributed to this report.