The House Judiciary Committee held a Congressional inquiry on allegations of Executive Power Misconduct yesterday, July 25th. As the room filled, audience members cheered as Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich entered the room. Harry Waxman was caught smiling. But there were many others that didn't appear quite so happy.
Chairman John Conyers called the committee to order and said, "We face few issues more difficult, complex or important than separation of powers in general, and excesses of the executive branch in particular. As our first great civil libertarian...Thomas Jefferson wrote, 'The greatest calamity which would befall us would be submission to a government of unlimited powers.'
"And so it's for that reason that the founders gave Congress the power to oversee the Executive branch as well as the power of the purse: the power to decide when the country goes to war and the power to remove--through the constitutional process, officers who may have violated their oath. And so it's for these same reasons that the founders created independent courts to operate as a check on the [other] two political branches and to serve as the final protector of our precious rights and liberties. ...
"At my direction, this committee has spent a considerable portion of its time, energy, and resources investigating allegations concerning the politicization of the Department of Justice, the misuse of signing statements, misuse of authority with regards to detention, interrogation, and rendition of detainees and others, possible manipulation of intelligence regarding the Iraq war, improper retaliation against critics of the administration--including the outing of Valerie Plame, and excessive secrecy by the administration including the misuse of various privileges and immunities. I believe the evidence on these matters is both credible and substantial and warrants direct answers from the most senior members of the administration--under oath, if at all possible."
Conyers sincere, but when you look at the outcomes of his committee's trials on such critical issues as steroid use in baseball, he somehow sounded like he needed to defend the [in]actions of the 110th Congress. Almost as if to wake me from the impeachment dream, Conyers mentioned his committee's hearings on "What went wrong" in the 2004 Ohio elections, among other hearings as some kind of proof of the committee's accomplishments. Yet those who once delighted in the committee's hearings on election fraud know that no one was never held accountable in the theft of our votes, and Ohio's 2008 votes will once again DieBOLD in democraticly held districts around the state.
Conyers continued, "We know the executive branch can and does overreach frequently in times of war. As one who was included on President Nixon's enemies list, I'm all too familiar with the specter of an unchecked executive branch, and the risks to our citizen's rights are even graver today--as the war on terror has no specific end point."
Ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, Lamar Hunt (R-TX) answered Chairman Conyer's opening remarks with, "[In regards to this hearing,] it seems that we are hosting an anger management class. Nothing is going to come out of this hearing with regard to impeachment of the President. I know it, the media knows it, and the Speaker knows it. The democratic leadership has said time again, they have no intention of bringing any impeachment resolution for the President or the Vice-President to the House floor.
"Why is that? It's because they know it won't pass. ... Because there is no evidence to support impeachment. To quote a democratic member of this committee during the Clinton impeachment, "[Congress] has no authority to forcibly remove the President simply because they dislike him or disapprove of his actions." Hunt was unclear as to which President he referred to when he said, "And another democratic member of this judiciary committee said yesterday he did not think the President had committed any crime. ...The members of the Judiciary Committee have found no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing by the President or the Vice-President..."
In closing Hunt added, "I want to read...an excerpt from the House rules...in regards to references to the President: '...The rules do not permit the use of language that is personally offensive toward the President. Personal criticism, innuendo, ridicule, or terms of opprobrium are not in order.'"
Upon Conyer's introduction of Robert Wexler (FL-D), the audience again broke into applause and he boldly spoke, "...I have vigorously argued that this committee should immediately begin impeachment hearings. The allegations made against the Bush White House documents serious abuses that if proven, would certainly constitute high crimes. ..."
"The power of impeachment which our founding fathers provided to the House of Representatives was designed precisely for this type of wrongdoing. ...When an administration takes actions that amount to high crimes, we--the representatives of the people--are left with no option other than to seek impeachment and removal from office. Our government was founded by a delicate balance of powers whereby one branch carefully checks the other branches to prevent a dangerous consolidation of power. The actions of this White House have eviscerated this careful balance. This is not a Democratic or Republican issue. This is an American issue. Without these checks and balances a president can run roughshod over any law with impunity. Congress must end this disturbing pattern of behavior and in these circumstances, unfortunately the only option left is impeachment hearings."
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) who was on the staff of Don Edwards during the impeachment of President Richard Nixon and on the Judiciary Committee during the impeachment of President Clinton, introduced the definition of high crimes and misdemeanors as "rogue action that really undercuts the very core system of government."
Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) who had previously submitted articles of impeachment against Dick Cheney (HR 333) and President Bush (HR-1258). The the latest legislation (HR 1345) includes 35 articles of impeachment against the President.
Rep. Kucinich illustrated the most commonly agreed upon article by saying, "Many members of Congress relied on these representations from the White House to inform their decision to support the legislation that authorized the use of force against Iraq. We all know [members of Congress] who have said if they knew then what they knew now, they would not have voted to permit an attack upon Iraq. The war was totally unnecessary, unprovoked and unjustified.
"The question for Congress is this: What responsibility does the President and members of his administration have for that unnecessary, unprovoked and unjustified war?"