Conyers Tells Rob Kall: Impeachment Not Off the Table; A You Tube Video
By Rob Kall
Rob Kall interviews John Conyers-- and uber blogger Matt Stoller video recorded it. Youtube link, transcript included. And Conyers says, on tape, Impeachment is NOT off the table, and more.
Update at 7:30 PM EST 01-29-08 After listening to the interview about half a dozen times, in addition to transcribing it (with the help of Matt Stoller) one line really hit me-- one that I really didn't respond to, or fully process at the time of the interview. I've hilighted it in red, in the transcript. And I'll discuss it at the end of the article, on the third page.
At the invitation only Progressive media summit, held by Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, Rob Kall interviewed John Conyers on impeachment. Uber Blogger Matt Stoller video recorded most of the conversation and posted it to youtube, commenting,
You get to see a fascinating and very human interaction between a highly intelligent activist and a sitting Congressman with immense power who is vaguely irritated at having to answer questions, but also intensely interested in answering them.
Here's the transcript of the conversation. Matt Stoller transcribed the part he videotaped, but I recorded the conversation from its start, so I"ve put them together and corrected a few minor transcription errors. Please make sure to read my comments on the third page-- my attempt to offer some additional context and a positive slant on Conyers words. (The brown print is the part that was not on the video.)
Rob Kall: You know, you just gave the talking points that all the members of congress use on why not to impeach-- that you want to stay focused on work, but I talked to ELizabeth Holtzman about it, and she did it (she was involved in the impeachment hearings of Richard Nixon.)
And she told me that it didn't hold up the congress at all. They had a room. They held hearings. The way I see it, the way the congress has been framing impeachment is the target of getting it to the senate and the whole point of impeachment is that it's a tool that lets you get around executive privilege. Right? YOu don't have the problem then (of Bush's refusal to allow people to testify after being subpoenaed.)
John Conyers: Dear friend. We've got two impeachments, the first time in American history. We gotta have two impeachments... (more transcript after the video)
I had some trouble accessing the youtube vide on Matt Stoller's openleft.com, so I've also embedded the video below. But please check out his commentary here
John Conyers: Two impeachments rather than one. They've either got to be simultaneous or seriatic.
Rob Kall: Seriatic would be the way to do it. First Cheney, then Bush. History teaches us, let's start with Gonzales. We went to Gonzales, and he's gone. They went to Agnew, he left. Then they went to Nixon, and they started doing hearings on him. It never went to a vote in the Senate. And I don't think it ever would. All we need to do is get the hearings opened up where they can't say 'sorry, executive privilege, then you've got the tools, which is what Impeachment is, it's a tool.
John Conyers: You know who's been in more impeachment hearings than anybody in the House or Senate?
Rob Kall: You?
John Conyers: Right.
Rob Kall: And you wrote a book on impeaching Bush, too.
John Conyers: A couple, yes. Well then there must be some compelling reason that I'm not doing it right now.
Rob Kall: Pelosi, Pelosi keeps coming to mind. (chuckling)
John Conyers: How could she stop, well, she could stop me because actually it goes through a special committee on the House, but, Pelosi can't stop me from anything, really.
Rob Kall: Yeah?
John Conyers: Yeah.
Rob Kall: So it's you stopping you, nobody else?
John Conyers: Well I don't know who's ever stopped me before, I don't know why Pelosi's going to stop me now.
Rob Kall: You know people say it's too late, and it's not too late for Bush to start another war, appoint another Supreme Court justice if something happened, and here we are stuck with him taking care of what could be the worst economic crisis in decades...
John Conyers: Let me just say this to you because there may be some other people that want to talk to me. Let me tell you this. If we started an impeachment hearing that didn't succeed, guess what would happen. They would say that he's being demonized, that Conyers always, they campaigned against the Democrats taking over last year, wait a minute, they campaigned against the Democrats saying two things, Rangel will raise taxes if the Democrats ran and Conyers would impeach Bush.
Now to come in on January 29th after having been impressed by your logic, Rob, and saying we're going after both these guys at once and if it doesn't, and I really smile at this one, and if it doesn't work at least you did it and taught them a lesson.
Well they would take that and that would bleed right into the election of 2008 sure as we're standing here.
Rob Kall: You've got in your committee stuck there held back Dennis Kucinich's bill.
John Conyers: So what?
Rob Kall: I asked Dennis about it and you know what he said, I asked him about people not acting because they're afraid of the reaction of the Republicans, and his reply was 'that's no way to run a democracy'. John Conyers: Well I see Dennis Kucinich way more than you and I know a lot about what he's doing and why he's doing it. I know about my dear friend Bob Wexler from Florida and that's their right and that's their authority, but I'm the chairman.
Rob Kall: Is there anything that could happen that would change your mind?
John Conyers: Sure. There are plenty of things that could happen. And it's not off the table.
Rob Kall: It's not? That's good to hear.
John Conyers: Well that's why we're talking. Rob Kall: Thank you.
Conyer's aide: Now the congressman has got to get back...
I must say that I have enormous respect for congressman Conyers. He didn't have to have the conversation and, like Matt Stoller, said, he's intensely interested in this. He is THE key factor in what could be a huge turning point in history. His refusal to proceed is perplexing though. I don't buy the argument that the concern about the Republicans attacking the action is holding HIM back. It might be enough to worry some the more invertebrate members of congress, but not Conyers.
On the contrary, I believe that if spun intelligently, taking the approach could dramatically help the Democrats in the 2008 elections. Conyers should take the position that Bush and Cheney have forced the house judiciary committee to use impeachment hearings as a last resort, because the whitehouse admin refused to obey, or allow appointees to obey conventional congressional subpoenas. Executive privilege can not be used in response to impeachment hearing subpoenas.
Perhaps my conversation with Conyers allowed him to tip off the whitehouse that there is more at stake than just saying no to the subpoenas already issued to Harriet Meiers and others. If so, I'm happy to be of help.
One thing seems clear. John Conyers is VERY aware of his place in history, the power we wields. The response from Bush to the Meiers subpoena will come soon. These are clearly very high stakes exchanges.
George Bush has been very concerned about his pathetic legacy, and it seems, he faces going down rather ignominiously in history. But John Conyers turns 80 in May. My guess he is contemplating how history regards him. There is still time to pursue the serial impeachment of constitutional and war criminals Dick Cheney and George Bush. I'm hoping that we will soon see that John Conyers has dotted his 'i''s and crossed his 't's to his satisfaction, and, having gone through all the proper procedures, so history gives him credit for giving Cheney and Bush a chance to work with the system and then giving them enough rope to hang themselves.
When Conyers says "There must be some compelling reason I'm not doing it right now, perhaps he has plans that are time sensitive. Perhaps when dealing with taking down the most powerful man in the world, who is a rogue killer, torturer, liar, you don't tip your hand. Perhaps you wait until the time is right and then spring your assault. How many people do you think Bush/Cheney would, if they could get away with it, KILL, to prevent hearings? So don't be so glib and quick to condemn Mr. Conyers yet. If, by the end of the 110th congress, he's done nothing, feel free, and history will surely look poorly upon his legacy. But now, the time is far too premature.
I've written about this many times before. Investigations of Agnew led to his resignation. Impeachment hearings of Nixon, which did not stop the work of congress, led to disclosures, confessions and discoveries that led a group of Republican senators to take "THE WALK" to the whitehouse, to inform Nixon that he must resign or face their cooperation in his impeachment.
History will recapitulate this series of events. Cheney will be investigated, and in short order, develop a "medical excuse" so he gets a note from the doctor that he needs to resign. Bush will appoint a vice president who the Dems in congress can live with, one who will not run for office-- probably a senior leader, like John Warner, James Baker, or maybe Bush will take advantage of the opportunity to make a minor correction to his legacy and appoint a black, woman or latino, or a native American (Senator Akaka has introduced legislation that would give native, indigenous Hawaiians the same right as Native American Indians. )
Then, hearings will continue against Bush. Just as history has taught us with the Agnew, Nixon and Gonzales hearings, lower level appointees will testify, provide evidence, then higher level appointees and ultimately, the ugly truth will lead to Mitch McConnell leading THE WALK to the whitehouse, informing Bush that the Republican party will be demolished for decades if Bush does not resign.
But timing is VERY important. I posted this as a comment below, but I want to be sure it is seen:
There's another way to think about this. If hearings are held early, and Cheney resigns, then Bush resigns, and it's, say, May, then there's a new, squeaky clean rebublican president, representing recovery, renewal, change-- and all of a sudden, the Bush presidency is behind them, with five months to go until the election. THAT could be a problem for the Dems. The ideal timing is to start investigating Cheney in March, for him to resign in June, with a replacement confirmed by July, then hearings on Bush, that start in july, are put on hold during the summer hiatus, continued in September, with the worst, most damning testimony happening in October.
Conyers told me that it would look pretty bad if the impeachment failed. Do YOU think he will fail to come up with worse dirt than he and Patrick Leahy and Chuck Schumer came up with, investigating Alberto Gonzales? Is Conyers being modest in expressing his concern? I'm hoping we'll see more developments as drama unfolds around the Meiers subpoena.
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Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind. Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big) to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project.