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Articles of Impeachment introduced in the House of Representatives normally go to the House Judiciary Committee for hearings. Since the 2006 elections, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said that impeachment is "off the table", so Articles of Impeachment sent to the Committee have languished without hearings.

On Friday, July, 11, 2008 Speaker Pelosi gave permission for the House Judiciary committee to hear testimony on charges raised by Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Committee Chairman John Conyers has said that Kucinich will be able to testify for a full day on his latest Article of Impeachment against President George W. Bush. This hearing occurred on July 25, 2008. It was almost completely partisan, with almost every Republican member and witness claiming that the Administration has done nothing wrong. In addition, Republicans argued that the President can only be impeached for misusing power for personal purposes, not for undermining or violating the Constitution for political purposes or for improper national security purposes.

This hearing will be available on video, and there will be an official transcript.

Committee StatementsEdit

  • John Conyers, D-Michigan 14th, Chairman "Not impeachment hearings"
  • Lamar Smith, R-Texas 21st, Ranking Member, "The Administration has done nothing wrong."
  • Robert Wexler, D-Florida 19th, ""
  • Bobby Scott, (D) Virginia, 3rd, ""
  • Steve King, R-IA, ""
  • Zoe Lofgren, D-CA 16th, "Worst President"
  • Dan Lungren, R-CA 3rd, "Show trial"
  • Jerrold Nadler, D-NY 8th, ""
  • Mike Pence, R-IN 6, "Criminalization of American Politics...No credible basis for impeachment...Bush is a man of integrity."
  • Sheila Jackson Lee, (D) Texas, 18th, "The question whether [outing Valerie Plame could be treasonous..."
  • Trent Franks, R-MI "Abandonment of duty to protect the Constitution...hearings on providing more rights to known terrorists"
  • Steve Cohen, (D) Tennessee, 9th, "Thank God we're not in Kansas any longer...Contemptuous conduct"
  • Hank Johnson, (D) Georgia 4th, "Do-nothing Republican-controlled rubber-stamp Congress"
  • Tammy Baldwin, (D) Wisconsin, 2nd, "This administration has soundly rebuffed every attempt to investigate"
  • Keith Ellison, (D) Minnesota, 5th, "At the end of the day, the most powerful tool that Congress has is impeachment. That's how you get the attention of the Executive."

Other MembersEdit

WitnessesEdit

Panel 1Edit

Current members of Congress

Dennis KucinichEdit

D Ohio,

  • War in Iraq
    • Death toll
    • Cost
    • Destruction of our domestic economy
  • The justifications given for war have been determined conclusively to be untrue.
    • Not threatening US
    • No biological
    • No nuclear weapons
    • No way to attack US
    • No WMD, so could not provide any to terrorists
    • Could not launch surprise attack
    • No connection with 9/11 or Al Qaeda

Maurice HincheyEdit

  • "This administration has been dominated by corruption and incompetence."
  • "Two months before the election of 2000 [Bush was informed that] Osama bin Laden was determined to attack...More than 40 briefings referring to Al Qaeda and Bin Laden."
  • Richard Clarke sending continuous warnings.
  • Attack on Afghanistan failed to follow up on Bin Laden. "They did not want to capture Bin Laden, because that would make it more difficult to justify [war on Iraq]."
  • "The most impeachable Administration ever."

===Brad Miller=== Edit

(D) North Carolina 13th

  • "Control of information is incompatible with democracy...Democracy dies behind closed doors."
  • quoted Woodrow Wilson
  • "These questions will not be moot after the election."

Walter JonesEdit

(R) North Carolina th, 
  • Clinton 300 signing statements
  • Bush 1,152 signing statements
  • over 800 Constitutional challenges and objections
  • "Congress should act now to insure proper disclosure and discussion of these statements."
  • John McCain has pledged not to use signing statements. Called on Barack Obama and Bob Barr to do the same.


2nd panelEdit

Elizabeth HoltzmanEdit

Former Representative from New York; former member of House Judiciary Committee; served on Nixon impeachment; book, The Constitutional Removal of George Bush

  • "The Framers developed the power of impeachment and put it in the hands of Congress to protect the democracy...It can't be ignored, it can't be shrugged aside...Prima facie case...Take care and be faithful in the execution of the laws."

There is substantial evidence that the Administration refused to obey the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act... Second case: Geneva Conventions, War Crimes Acts, Torture Act. "Waterboarding...has been admitted." Signing statements Misuse of Executive Privilege can rise to an impeachable offense when it is used to shield improper or illegal Administration activities.

Bob BarrEdit

Former Representative, Libertarian candidate for President

"The Justice Department is one of the least trusted branches of government."

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis: "The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding." (Olmstead v. United States)

Ross AndersonEdit

Founded The High Road for Human Rights

  • Felonious warrantless wiretapping
  • Frighteningly over-broad official secrecy
  • Heinous human rights violations
  • Abuse of trust
  • Denials of due process
  • State Secrets doctrine
  • War crimes
  • Crimes against peace
  • Misleading Congress
  • Grave violations of treaties, the Constitution, an statutory law
  • Bent on attacking Iran
  • Special prosecutors should investigate
  • Horrendous damage to the US and the rest of the world.
  • Call for Select Committee

"There has never been a more compelling case for impeachment."

Stephen PresserEdit

Northwestern University

"I can't believe that there are any grounds for impeachment." "The constitution gives each branch of government broad discretion to determine its own powers." "[Torture and denial of habeas corpus]k seems to have been undertaken in good faith." WMD "turned out not to exist in the quantities claimed."

Bruce FeinEdit

Former Associate Deputy Attorney

Much to my surprise I found that there was a prohibition against insulting the President and Vice President, as for instance by insinuating that they have committed impeachable offenses.

"The Executive has vandalized the Constitution."

"The Executive Branch has rejected the values of the country."

"We shouldn't wait around until we have a coup before we take defensive action."

"When the President says that he is seeking to gather foreign intelligence, he can flout any law."

"Any limitation on the President's power is unconstitutional."

"He has asserted the right to shield his activities."

Tacitus: "The worst crimes were dared by few, practiced by more, but tolerated by all."

Vincent Bugliosi Author of The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. Former LA County DA, prosecutor of Manson

"Under the law, Bush Administration officials are guilty of murder in Iraq."

Bush claimed that Iraq was an imminent threat six days after receiving a CIA briefing stating the exact opposite.


Prof. Jeremy RabkinEdit

George Mason University

"Wild conspiracy theories"

Quotes Rehnquist with approval: "War-time presidents don't take great care about the Constitution, they take great care to defend the country."

"I'm really astonished at the tone in this room. I think it's demented...It is not reasonable to describe the President as if he were Caligula."

Frederick SchwarzEdit

NYU, Brennan Center

"We have adopted tactics of the enemy...We have abandoned the rule of law."

"The consequence of what we have done is not only that America is less free, but also less safe."

"We have given our enemies powerful tools to stir up enmity among the Muslim world."

I recommend that the new Congress and the new president create a new law...I don't recommend impeachment because I think it is too late...We need to know the full truth."

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis: "The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding." (Olmstead v. United States)

Elliot AdamsEdit

Veterans for Peace

"Well, Doctor, what have we: A republic or a monarchy?

"A Republic, madam, if you can keep it."

Benjamin Franklin

"Many of our members have set aside their work to defend the Constitution."


DiscussionEdit

  • Barr, introduced The Disappearing Bill of Rights
  • Pence and Presser made a comment, Impeachment is to be limited only to those cases where the official acted to further his personal interests. Firmage, To Chain the Dog of War: "Clearly charges of Constitutional violations and gross abuse of power should be included as impeachable offenses...Also acts that are not defined as criminal, but...political offenses...breach of official duties...Fraud commited by high-ranking officials [on the justification for war]."
  • Bugliosi: "Mr. Presser apparently feels that Clinton lying about sex is worse than Bush taking us to war under false pretenses."

"Bush and Blair met in the Oval Office. Manning prepared a confidential summary [the Downing Street memo] "Bush was so worried about the failure of weapons inspectors to find WMD that he proposed to fly U2s over Iraq painted in UN colors, so that if Hussein fired on them, he would be in violation of UN resolutions."

  • Cindy Sheehan speaks up from the audience, and is thrown out.
  • Schwarz "Previous actions in time of war were taken in public." "The Administration takes the position that like the British monarchs of the 17th century the President can break the law." The OLC still takes the position that the President can break the law, and can do so in secret."

QuestionsEdit

SmithEdit

To Presser: "Clinton impeachment about obstruction of justice and tampering with witnesses." Ignores Bugliosi's actual question. "Any impeachable offenses?" "No" "Any evidence of misconduct?" "No"

To Rabkin: "If you look beyond the anger and the bitterness, what do you see?" "If the people believe that the President got us into war to enrich the oil companies...of course that would be impeachable...But nobody has tried really to explain what that conspiracy is." "Demented...You have to believe that the President is a Shakespearean villain...The people making these charges must be extremely bitter." "We seem to be in the third election in a row that well be really, really close."

To Presser and Rabkin: "If we were to use the charges that we heard today as an impeachable offense, what other Presidents would be guilty of impeachable offenses?" Presser: "Roosevelt." Rabkin: "McKinley, Spanish-American War; Roosevelt goaded Japanese to attack, and conspiracy theorists hold that he betrayed the country by exposing it to attack; Truman said that it was not just a dispute between North and South Korea, but directed from the Kremlin; Johnson, Vietnam "I am not accusing him of lying." Rabkin claims that each of these Presidents believed what they said.

NadlerEdit

Presser and Rabkin totally wrong. Not about personal enrichment, but about destroying liberty and the function of government, as stated in the 1974 report on impeachable offenses. Lying to Congress is impeachable. "The President claims the power to point the finger at anyone in this room and declare that person an enemy combatant." "No executive in any English-speaking country has claimed such authority since Magna Carta. No remedy for misconduct or abuse of power."

"I have been quoted in the past as saying that I did not think impeachment is not a practical remedy, although God knows it is deserved."

How do we overcome Executive Privilege? Fein: "The remedy is to vote an Article of Impeachment."

Should there be a Constitutional amendment limiting the pardon power to prevent using it in a cover-up? Fein: Can be done by statute, because the Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate the powers of any officer of government.

To Holtzman: How can we proceed in this highly-charged political environment, given that Republicans only voted for impeachment after the Smoking Gun tape? In fact, Republicans came along before that tape, after the Saturday Night Massacre and other events. There were three Articles of Impeachment being considered before that. The fairness of the process brought both sides (and Southern Democrats) along. Johnson and Clinton impeachments were partisan, Nixon was not.

KingEdit

I appreciate the by-partisan remarks by the gentlelady. This is the most partisan "I think that Caligula himself, if he were a Democrat, would not be investigated by this committee." Introduced debriefing of Ambassador Joseph Wilson by the CIA. Claims that Wilson said that Mayaki met with an Iraqi to discuss expanding trade, and that could only mean trying to buy yellowcake uranium. "550 metric tons of yellowcake found in Iraq."

ScottEdit

Many of these statements by Presser and Rabkin are known not to be true. Is there a limitation on the ability of the President to lie to Congress? How can we rein in torture when the Administration redefines torture? What about US Attorneys engaged in political prosecutions? What about hiring on the basis of political considerations? How can we enforce the limitations on Executive power without using the impeachment process?

Fein: During the Nixon hearings, the question was raised whether the President could be prosecuted during his term in office. The decision was that he could not. So short of impeachment, there is nothing else you can do. So this duty cannot be shirked. A George Washington appointee said to the North Carolina legislature, "The President must certainly be punishable for giving false information to the Senate."

Barr: Congress cannot make things worse, as in the FISA bill, with both retrospective and prospective immunity for telecommunications company. Congress set back the Constitutional clack by caving in to the Bush Administration.

Holtzman: Any official can be prosecuted under the Torture Act for the rest of his or her life. Congress could remove the limitations in the Military Commissions Act. Because both include the death penalty, there is no statute of limitations for either. There is no remedy for a President who considers himself above the law.

Bugliosi: "I make it very clear in my book that the President has temporary immunity from prosecution while in office. But when he leaves, he can be prosecuted for anything he has done."

FranksEdit

"I have already expressed my dismay at the focus of this hearing." Quotes Congressional figures who were misled as evidence that there really were WMDs in Iraq. Quotes the terrorists about their hostility and their aims. Zarqawi, Al-Manar, Al-Zawahiri. "We have focused too much on these fairy tales." "I would suggest that the greatest failure of the Administration is allowing 9/11 to occur." We're going after the President for trying to protect us.

To Rabkin: What should the Administration do about our security? "Truman was told that if he didn't use the bomb, he would be impeached."

F. A. O. Schwarz: These measures are illegal.

WattEdit

In response to Mr. Franks, I have often said, If the President and Attorney General...is protecting me against terrorism, who's protecting me against them?"

About Barr: "Nobody on that side of the aisle..has stepped into that void."

"I'm on record, much to the dismay of a lot of my constituents, that I am not going to lead any charge on impeachment...I would certainly be an active participant...I am convinced that impeachment hearings would distract us...I hope that the American people impeach the President in November."

PenceEdit

"I'm surprised at how free people are about making statements without adequate evidence...I am in favor of making signing statements public immediately...I fought very strongly for sunsets on the Patriot Act...But to come back to some of these brash allegations...Bush is accused of being naive in accepting representations by the Clinton Administration...Joseph Wilson said that one of the strongest arguments against attacking Iraq is that it would push him to use WMDs."

LofgrenEdit

"I voted against the FISA bill (because of retroactive immunity) but it does increase oversight and Fourth Amendment protections...I remember watching Congresswoman Holtzman and Congressman Conyers in the Nixon impeachment, and the Republicans were really not on board, until they found out that Nixon had been lying to them...My real question is, assuming just for the sake of argument, we are not in impeachment mode, how are we going to set things right? I told you so is not a very satisfactory response...Being right doesn't do me any good. I'm interested in maybe a Truth and Reconciliation Commission...How would we enforce the findings against the Executive?"

To Barr: "What would you recommend?" "Policies in a Barr administration would be completely different."

LungrenEdit

"We run the risk of criminalizing political disputes." "I believe that impeachment is a strong tool of the Legislative branch, but I believe it should be used judiciously."

Presser begins to answer.

Holders of signs asked to put them away or leave. Demonstrations and shouting. Demonstrators leave.

Presser: "Impeachment is available when a President is corrupt or cannot do his job. The question here is whether the President acted in good faith, or was not interested in doing that."

Rabkin: "If the people think the President you can impeach the Attorney-General, you can impeach the White House Counsel...It is not true that there is no remedy other than impeaching the President. I think that the reason we are discussing impeaching the President as that a lot of people find it titillating..."

Jackson-LeeEdit

"Have the American people been protected?...When the oath of office includes the phrase 'take care that the laws be faithfully executed'...Mr. Fein, is there some merit there?...James Madison said that a people that chooses to govern itself must arm itself with the necessary information. Otherwise it is a farce" "Administration officials including George Tenet said that information was withheld from this Congress countering the story of WMD in Iraq or about collusion between Al Qaeda and Iraq...That clearly is an impeachable offense under the standard of the Founders."

To Bugliosi: "In this book of mine I do not say, believe it or not...that he lied about WMD. Actually, he did...but that's not why I'm suggesting he be prosecuted for murder...In the previously classified intelligence briefing...there are several important dissents. In the White Paper presented to the American people, all of the dissents were removed...I guess Mr. Franks already knows enough, he doesn't want to hear...The issue is not whether Iraq has WMD, it is whether Iraq was an imminent threat to the security of the United States. Sixteen agencies said it was not."

PenceEdit

To Presser:

"I have heard your testimony described as 'atrocious scholarship'. How long have you been a professor at Northwestern?" "31 years."

"Have you published anything else?" "Yes, several other books and papers."

"Impeachment...is the elephant in the room. We've found our way there."

"It seems to me that the objections which have been raised have been over matters of policy...James Madison and George Mason had this argument which you cite...whether the term 'maladministration' should be in the Constitution...You point to the founders rejecting this term as a basis of impeachment on the basis that it would amount to the President serving at the pleasure of the Senate." "I think that's entirely accurate."

"I have great respect for Congressman Kucinich...You make a point that this business of High Crimes and Misdemeanors is about whether the President put his personal interests above those of the country...Would that ?" "No."

WexlerEdit

"I would beg respectfully to differ with Mr. Pence...Lying to Congress, spying on the American people, torture are not policy issues...The Administration has shielded itself from Congressional oversight to an extent that no other Administration has ever done. That is not a policy issue...The issue of refusing to appear before Congress, just that one impeachable offense, is that a policy issue or a Constitutional issue?"

Anderson: "It is clearly a Constitutional issue...It is not up to the goodwill of another President."

Fein: "[Refusing to honor subpoenas] is the most important offense...Refusing to appear is similar to contempt of court."

Holtzman: "The Constitutional standard of High Crimes and Misdemeanors...when the Administration refuses, without even a colorable excuse...whether the Justice Department ???"

CohenEdit

To Holtzman: "Is there anything to Cheney's claim not to be a member of the Administration?" "The very first impeachment was against a Senator...Obstruction of justice is clearly an impeachable offense."

To Fein: "Should we proceed with impeachment?" "The impeachment of President Nixon was a unifying event. President Ford said, 'Our national nightmare is over.'...These offenses are open and notorious...Therefore you don't need a prolonged investigation of facts. He has said openly that he can lock up anybody."

JohnsonEdit

Presser: "You testified in the Nixon impeachment before this committee?" "Yes." "Clinton's actions were self-serving?" "Yes." "You are looking for an official who is corrupt and therefore cannot carry out his duties." "I think that [impeachment hearings] turn on whether you have probable cause." "Are you here to tell the American people that what you have heard does not rise to that level?" "I don't see it. Maybe others do." "You don't think it would be fanciful to hold such a hearing?" "I think you have taken an oath to defend the Constitution. You have to do what you think you should do." "I don't think it would be irresponsible not to follow up on these allegations."

Holtzman: Congress should have a short hearing. "The Nixon process itself educated the Congress and the public about the Constitution."

ShermanEdit

"We [the Congress] have done to ourselves that which Rev. Jackson is said to have said about somebody else...We have a big election coming up. Nobody makes a big deal about whether the President will follow laws." "The Administration has told me that the requirement to report oil companies doing business in Iran is bad foreign policy and that they will not do it." They want a line-item veto, and they do this with signing statements. Would a provision in laws that the President must sign a statement saying that it is Constitutional and he would enforce it help?" "Maybe."

BaldwinEdit

"What will be the effect on the next Administration of leaving this Administration unsanctioned?"

SchiffEdit

Recommends a "Church" committee. The inquiry should start now, and should continue during the next session of Congress. I think that it would be critically important that the Congress be informed when an Administration determines that some provision of law is unconstitutional and will not be enforced.

To Schwarz: The head of the Office of Legal Counsel is either a bad lawyer, or a competent lawyer who misunderstands his job as cheerleading for the President.

Schwarz: I don't think that relying on these opinions is reasonable. There is a law requiring the President to inform the Congress when he decides that some provision of law is unconstitutional. This Administration has issued a signing statement refusing to abide by it.

Wasserman SchultzEdit

To Schwarz: "Do you have a comment on whether President Bush's use of signing statements is precedented?" "It is unprecedented in scope and breadth...The President should send somebody to court if he objects to a provision of the law...They are being abused." "When I was in the Florida legislature, there were occasions when we went to the Florida Supreme Court when we thought there were abuses...Can Congress do anything like this?" "I don't know." Fein: "You have the power of the purse. You can pass a law saying that there will be no money for enforcement if the President issues a signing statement

EllisonEdit

"Couldn't the President get around that with a signing statement?" "That would be a new height in audacity, but that is not to say it would not be reached."

To Kucinich: "How did you determine that the President lied to Congress?" "I examined the House JR 14 that passed line by line and found the evidence...The Resolution says that Iraq was an imminent danger to the US...that Iraq had a significant biological and chemical weapons program. There was evidence that the Administration knew that this was not true. [litany of claims] This came from the Resolution which came from [the White House]. I don't even get into the statements that were made to the Senate ?? Committee...Start with the post-war analysis, that none of these claims were fact-based, and look at the pre-war analysis, that shows that the intelligence was used selectively...Who was it that caused the wrong intelligence to be used.

To Presser: "Wouldn't you agree...that there is the basis for an inquiry?" "If they had been proven, but I have not heard anything that ???" "I think that would form the basis of an inquiry, sure."

To Rabkin: "Wouldn't you agree...?" "If what he was saying that they knowingly and deliberately deceived us, that could be the basis for an inquiry."

LungrenEdit

"I remember prosecuting a difficult case on perjury in the OJ Simpson case...One of the things that came out was that perjury requires a misstatement that is material and intentional...The distance between an assertion and...a conviction is a long road. There is a big difference between a misstatement and an intentional misstatement.

Nadler: "Will the gentleman yield?...It has been brought out that the intelligence ???" "No."

Lungren complains that demonstrations on the part of the audience are intimidating the witnesses.

"The only thing I see as that the CIA director Mr. Tenet, referred to this as a 'slam dunk'...Eisenhower made the point that intelligence is never certain...It is a case of the President making his best judgment at the time...The Administration brought in the leadership on a bipartisan basis...The way this is portrayed as all evil against all goodness, and that the Administration is chomping at the bit to violate the Constitution ???"

"You can say that this is maladministration, but this is not the basis for impeachment."

ConclusionEdit

Time expires.

Conyers: "I think that this is the most important hearing that we have had."

Hearing adjourned.

External LinksEdit

House Judiciary Committee Web site

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