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Coburn raises possibility of impeachment at town hall

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Courtesy NBC News

By Carrie Dann, Political Reporter, NBC News

A Republican lawmaker on Wednesday appeared to suggest that President Barack Obama is "getting perilously close" to meeting the criteria for impeachment. 

"I think those are serious things, but we're in serious times," said Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn during a town hall in his home state.

"And I don't have the legal background to know if that rises to ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,' but I think you're getting perilously close."

The remark came after an attendee called the Obama administration "lawless" and asked, "who is responsible for enforcing [Obama's] constitutional responsibilities?"

"What you have to do is you have to establish the criteria that would qualify for proceedings against the president. And that's called impeachment," he said as some in the audience applauded.

He added that the House of Representatives is responsible for bringing charges against the president.

"I think there's some intended violation of the law in this administration but I also think there's a ton of incompetence," he added.

Coburn said that he does not know if the constitutional standard for impeachment has been met, and he said that that such proceedings should not be "something you take lightly."

"I'm documenting all this stuff as it goes along, but I don't know where that level is," he added.

It was unclear what specific instance Coburn was referencing as possible grounds for impeachment, although he mentioned that he believes Department of Homeland Security officials have told career USCIS employees to "ignore" background checks for immigrants. The questioner also mentioned the Internal Revenue Service at one point.

A Coburn spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Coburn, who described himself as a "personal friend" of Obama's, said he was "fed up" and "frustrated" with the status quo.

"He became my friend in the Senate but that does not mean I agree in any way with what he's doing or how he's doing it," he said. "And I quite frankly think he's in a difficult position he's put himself in, and if it continues, I think we're going to have another constitutional crisis in our country in terms of the presidency."

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