1

Just saw this and I was wondering if it was a legit quote. I've seen similar claims about Biden too, here the PolicyMic headline states "Joe Biden Wanted Bush Impeached For the Very Thing Obama is About to Do".

Biden Quote

The above graphic reads,

The Founding Fathers were, as in most things, profoundly right. That's why I want to be very clear: if the President takes us to [war] without Congressional approval, I will call for his impeachment.

I do not say this lightly or to be provocative. I am dead serious. I have chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee. I still teach constitutional law. I've consulted with leading constitutional scholars. The Constitution is clear. And so am I.

- Joe Biden, 2007

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    Your recent edit alleges that "[President] Obama is about to do the very thing that Joe Biden [would have] wanted [President] Bush impeached for": which is a different claim from the original question, and not obviously true. – ChrisW Aug 28 '13 at 19:59
  • @ChrisW only because I gave "about to do" the context in which the claim originated. You'd have understood that if you read the sourced article. – Evan Carroll Aug 28 '13 at 21:16
  • Re that second allegation: a "land war" in Iran (like Iraq or Vietnam) may have been, in several important ways, different from stand-off naval-based air strikes on Syria. And, the War Powers Resolution which seeks to limit the president's authority is controversial. It is also somewhat ambiguous: for example, as described in page 23 "Consultation with Congress" of fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33532.pdf -- Maybe Politics.SE would be better, for that topic. – ChrisW Aug 28 '13 at 21:43
  • Even less true now. – DJClayworth Sep 2 '13 at 17:02
6

He says something very like that in this Youtube video, which this BuzzFeed article says was "speaking at a campaign event in Davenport, Iowa in December 2007".

The same BuzzFeed article cites this this page which contains the text you quoted.

One nit-pick: he said "the" president (not the "any" president which you ask in the title to your question) -- and he was referring to President Bush, w.r.t. Iran:

I’m saying this now to put the administration on notice and hopefully to deter the President from taking unilateral action in the last year of his administration. If war is warranted with a nation of 70 million people, it warrants coming to Congress and the American people first.

2

This quote actually comes from an Iowa City Public Library speech in 2007. The Council on Foreign Relations has the contents of this speech on this website.

War Powers

It is precisely because the consequences of war – intended or otherwise – can be so profound and complicated that our Founding Fathers vested in Congress, not the President, the power to initiate war, except to repel an imminent attack on the United States or its citizens.

They reasoned that requiring the President to come to Congress first would slow things down… allow for more careful decision making before sending Americans to fight and die… and ensure broader public support.

The Founding Fathers were, as in most things, profoundly right.

That’s why I want to be very clear: if the President takes us to war with Iran without Congressional approval, I will call for his impeachment.

I do not say this lightly or to be provocative. I am dead serious. I have chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee. I still teach constitutional law. I’ve consulted with some of our leading constitutional scholars. The Constitution is clear. And so am I.

I’m saying this now to put the administration on notice and hopefully to deter the President from taking unilateral action in the last year of his administration.

If war is warranted with a nation of 70 million people, it warrants coming to Congress and the American people first.

What's clearly excluded from the first quote is that this was specific to Iran. Not that all of the same conditions (stated in the speech) aren't true with other targets of the Obama administration, but it is clear he was talking specifically about Iran.

He makes similar comments in this video,

"If you're going to impeach George Bush you better impeach Cheney first. Not a joke. [...] The president has no authority to unilaterally attack Iran and I want to make it clear. I want it on the record, and I want to make it clear. If he does as Chairmen of the Foreign Relations Committee and former chair of the Judicial Committee I will move to impeach him."

Here is a video with Biden on Chris Mathews where he defends the use of the term "impeach" regarding Iran. As the The Atlantic writes about this same question.

Chris Matthews: You said that if the United States had launched at attack on Iran without Congressional approval, that would've been an impeachable offense. Do you want to review that comment you made?

Joe Biden: Absolutely. I want to stand by that comment I made. The reason I made the comment was as a warning. I don't say those things lightly, Chris. you've known me for a long time. I was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee for 17 years. I teach separation of powers in Constitutional law. This is something I know. So I brought a group of Constitutional scholars together to write a piece that I'm going to deliver to the whole United States Senate pointing out that the president HAS NO CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY to take this country to war against a country of 70 million people unless we're attacked or unless there is proof that we are about to be attacked. And if he does, I would move to impeach him. The House obviously has to do that, but I would lead an effort to impeach him. The reason for my doing that -- and I don't say it lightly, I don't say it lightly.

So in essence, yes he did make this threat,

tldr; Biden originally made the claim specifically about Iran, but in defense of that comment he made it more principled about the president's constitutional authority and the punishment for unconstitutionally broadening that authority.

  • We don't know whether cfr.org is a reliable source, do we? – ChrisW Aug 28 '13 at 16:34
  • Sure they are, they authored the Foreign Relations magazine. Wikipedia. About Page – Evan Carroll Aug 28 '13 at 16:37
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    I assume that everything and anything to do with American politics is partisan (including your motive for posting this question here): so I was satisfied that I found a video, and an apparent quote from Joe Biden's own web site. – ChrisW Aug 28 '13 at 16:41
  • @ChrisW if I'm going to track down political quotes from 2007, why not do so publicly? – Evan Carroll Aug 28 '13 at 16:50
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    Well I'll answer that, because you asked, so please don't take this as a criticism: a) Because it took me one minute to find credible sources using Google, and I wasn't even interested; and b) Because I fear that some people might want to use/abuse this forum as a wall on which mud sticks; but looked at your history of questions, and you don't seem to be doing that. – ChrisW Aug 28 '13 at 17:09

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