John Larson responded in writing to the 12 questions posed by Greater Hartford Impeach several weeks ago, but he supplied answers to none of them. Through aide John Rossi, he sent me a package consisting of a two-page letter and a two-inch thick looseleaf binder of selected resources bearing on the issue of executive accountability, including a congressional guide to the impeachment function that was published ten years ago by the Congressional Research Service and several hundred pages from the Congressional Record of various hearings.
You may remember that I left a letter with Larson just before Thanksgiving asking directly whether he believes this president has acted criminally in lying to Congress about Iraq, holding prisoners without legal process, corrupting the federal prosecutorial function, torturing prisoners, and spying on Americans without a warrant, among other crimes. He was also asked to acknowledge that Congress is the sole law enforcement authority in the case of presidential criminality and that he will set a precedent if he fails to hold this president accountable.
In his letter, Larson expresses sympathy for the position of Greater Hartford Impeach and claims he shares our “frustration and outrage at the Bush Administration.”
“Your patriotic duty and call for immediate action from Congress are not unjusitified,” he adds. “I believe we must restore a system of checks and balances in our federal government and reassert the authority of Congress. While the Constitution provides for impeachment under Article 1 we must take great care in following the rule of law in pusuing such action, no matter how vigilant and emotional we feel about this war. This should start with revisiting the War Powers Act . . .”
From there, Larson digresses to criticize Republicans for the impeachment of Bush’s predecessor. He goes on to discuss the congressional oversight function and boasts about the number of hearings held. No comment from him on what Congress might do about the findings of these various hearings, which document instance of after instance of malfeasance and criminality.
Larson emphasizes the role of Republicans as an impediment to legislative progress, deducing that “legislative difficulties underscore the challenge of securing the necessary two-thirds majority for a conviction in the Senate.” The prosecutors of the Nazis at Nuremberg could have said the same thing about the challenges facing their quest for official accountability.
Larson’s conclusion: “I believe that to knowingly move forward with an impeachment that cannot succeeed would only serve political purposes, vindicate the President and not serve our rule of law.” He knows how a trial would come out, he’s saying, without even looking at the evidence, much less discussing it. His implication is that his colleagues in the other house are altogether corrupt and could not reach a a fair verdict. And by this logic, Larson feels he is serving the rule of law. If Larson’s logic had prevailed in 1945, Hermann Goering might have lived out his days comfortably in New Jersey.
We asked Larson explicit questions about criminal conduct at the top of the executive branch and his constitutional duty to hold the wrongdoers accountable, and he parried them with digressions and diversions and answered not a single one. It was a cynical response, intellectually dishonest, baldly political, and insulting to anyone who seeks an accounting, which Larson considers an abuse of the constitutional process.
You might want to give Larson’s office a call at (860) 278-8888 to confirm that he has no intention of discussing the abundant evidence of criminal conduct and malfeasance on the part of the President of the United States and that he’s satisfied with the precedent he’s setting for future presidents.