Congressman Mike Michaud, a conservative and Blue Dog Democrat from Maine sent a letter over the holiday break to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers calling for impeachment hearings of Vice President Dick Cheney.
Michaud is not among the 25 cosponsors of Rep. Dennis Kucinich's H Res 333 (also known as H Res 799), a resolution stipulating articles of impeachment against Cheney. Michaud is also not among a group of Judiciary Committee Members led by Rep. Robert Wexler who have called for hearings to begin, and who plan to send their own letter to Conyers this month. (Michaud is not on the committee.) But Michaud shares the position of congress members Wexler, Luis Gutierrez, and Anthony Weiner that hearings should be held first and articles drafted when and if called for by the evidence exposed. For reports on the progress of the various groups of congress members now pushing for impeachment of Cheney see: http://impeachcheney.org
Maine has been a hotbed of impeachment activism in recent months.
Efforts have been led by an activist coalition and a group of lawyers called Maine Lawyers for Democracy. Citizens have staged sit-ins in the offices of Rep. Michaud and also Rep. Tom Allen demanding support for impeachment. Those efforts may be paying off, and Michaud appears in the letter below to have grasped some of his constituents' main arguments for impeachment.
While known as a conservative, Michaud has turned against the occupation of Iraq and joined a small number of Congress Members in voting against further funding. Iraq is also the first issue Michaud mentions in his letter to Conyers.
While Conyers is widely understood to be obeying pressure from Nancy Pelosi in refusing to begin impeachment proceedings, Michaud has not written to Pelosi. Constituents of Subcommittee Chairman Jerrold Nadler were arrested in his Brooklyn office on Wednesday sitting-in to demand he begin impeachment hearings. Michaud has not written to Nadler. Like Wexler and his allies, Michaud has chosen to write to the Chair of the full committee, and the recognized expert on impeachment: John Conyers. Conyers has, of course, published a book documenting at length most of the abuses that Michaud refers to in his letter.
Here is the full text of the letter, also available as the original PDF.
Dear Chairman Conyers,
I write today to request that you include vigorous hearings into the abuses of power by this Administration and include impeachment hearings of Vice President Richard Cheney in the Judiciary Committee schedule for the second session of the 110th Congress.
As you are aware, the House of Representatives voted on November 7th to send a resolution of impeachment of Vice President Cheney to the Judiciary Committee. I urge you to commence these proceedings. There is no doubt that at the very least this Administration has dangerously expanded the scope of executive authority and flaunted the constitutionally defined separation of powers.
Serious allegations have been raised against the Vice President regarding his role in mischaracterizing information that led to the invasion of Iraq, in similarly mischaracterizing information about Iran's nuclear program, the outing of a CIA agent as political retaliation, the abuse of detainees in contravention of the Geneva Conventions, and the illegal wiretapping of American citizens. As a recent poll indicates, 70% of the American public believes that the Vice President has abused his power.
This is not an attack on Vice President Cheney or any other member of this Administration. Impeachment investigations must not be about the man or his personal life; they must focus on whether the office of the Vice President has illegally expanded its power or abused the law. Expansions and potential abuses of power by this Administration become precedents for future ones, which lead to further erosions of our constitutional rights. That is why these investigations must be held with the utmost seriousness of purpose and must lay all the facts on the table. We do not know what the result of any investigation will be, but this is the only way to restore the faith of the American people in their government.
There must be no other purpose for these proceedings than to protect our Constitution and to hold individuals accountable if they have broken the law. Most importantly, we must act in a way that will heal the growing bitter divide within our country and end the disillusionment that many Americans feel toward their government.
Thank you for your consideration of this issue of such great importance. I look forward to working with you to strengthen our democracy and our nation.
Michael H. Michaud
Member of Congress