By David Swanson
I ran into Congressman Donald Payne Tuesday evening and asked him if he would sign on to cosponsor H Res 333, articles of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney. He said yes immediately and brought his legislative director in on the conversation. They both said yes, as a matter of course, as if all they'd been waiting for was someone to ask them. Now, I know that's not quite the case, and that citizens of New Jersey have been lobbying Payne and other New Jersey Congress Members intensely. Still, it makes me wonder how many Congress Members might back impeachment if people just got to them, face-to-face, and asked.
Well, here's your chance to find out. Congress is taking the next month off. Congress Members will be in their districts. They'll be near your house. They have offices near your house. Now is the time to ask them to cosponsor H Res 333 or introduce their own articles of impeachment against Cheney. If they agree to cosponsor H Res 333, you should contact Congressman Dennis Kucinich's office and let him know. If they do not agree, you should make a bunch of big posters that say "Honk to Impeach" and stand on the street corner in front of your Congress Member's office. Or you should sit in their office, read the Constitution out loud, and refuse to leave. August is your time to make your message clear. 54% of Americans want Cheney impeached, and 40% do not. See how many of that 54% you can bring with you to your representative's office.
If we add Congressman Payne's name to the official list of cosponsors of H Res 333, including the original sponsor, Kucinich, we get a total of 16 principled men and women standing for the impeachment of Dick Cheney. They are: Jan Schakowsky, Maxine Waters, Hank Johnson, Keith Ellison, Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee, Albert Wynn, William Lacy Clay, Dennis Kucinich, Yvette Clarke, Jim McDermott, Jim Moran, Bob Filner, Sam Farr, Robert Brady, and Donald Payne.
Meanwhile, two Congress Members have recently said that they support the impeachment of Cheney and Bush, but have not yet signed onto any bills: Jesse Jackson Jr., and Maurice Hinchey. While they should be asked immediately to put their signatures where their mouths are, we can go ahead and include them in our count of Congress Members for impeachment, bringing the total to 18.
On Tuesday, Congressman Jay Inslee introduced or announced he would soon introduce a bill to impeach Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Inslee says he has 15 cosponsors, including himself. Neither Inslee nor anyone else I can find provides a full list of those 15 names, but 11 of them are: Jay Inslee, Xavier Becerra, Michael Arcuri, Ben Chandler, Dennis Moore, Bruce Braley, Tom Udall, Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, Hank Johnson, Steve Cohen. Of those 11, only one, Hank Johnson, is already on our list of impeachment supporters. Assuming that he is the only one of the 15 already on our list, we can add 14 to 18 and reach a total of 32 Congress Members now backing the impeachment of either Cheney or Gonzales or both.
Bringing the grand total to 33 is none other than the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who said on Tuesday that if she were not the Speaker she would probably be backing impeachment. Word to the wise: other congress members should do as she would do, not as she advises.
It is likely that most or all of the supporters of H Res 333 will sign onto Inslee's bill, assuming – again – that somebody asks them. And supporters of Inslee's bill can now be added to the list of priority Members to lobby to sign onto H Res 333. Of special note is freshman Congressman Steve Cohen because he serves on the House Judiciary Committee. With the addition of his name, there are now four members of the Judiciary Committee on our list of 33, two for impeaching Cheney, one for impeaching Gonzales, and one for impeaching both of them.
Congressman Payne is an interesting addition as well. Payne holds the same seat in Congress that was once held by Peter Rodino, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who led the passage of articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon.
In addition to Inslee's cosponsors, it's possible to create a list of priority Members to be lobbied on impeaching Cheney. By combining the lists of those who seem most likely to sign on (primarily those who cosponsored H Res 635 in the last Congress) with those on the Judiciary Committee who seem most likely to sign on, we arrive at this list:
John Hall, Maurice Hinchey, Jesse Jackson Jr., Diane Watson, Sheila Jackson Lee, John Lewis, Steve Cohen, Neil Abercrombie, Tammy Baldwin, Lois Capps, Michael Capuano, Danny Davis, Chaka Fattah, Michael Honda, Carolyn Maloney, Betty McCullom, Gwen Moore, James Oberstar, John Olver, Steven Rothman, Hilda Solis, Pete Stark, John Tierney, Nydia Velazquez, David Wu, Bill Delahunt, Bobby Scott, Artur Davis, Mel Watt, Luis Gutierrez, Zoe Lofgren, Robert Wexler, Linda Sanchez, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Jerrold Nadler, John Conyers.
These are not people who have suggested or even hinted that they are willing to step up and support the Constitution. But they are the most likely and most important to do so.
Any Congress Members afraid that the media will pillory them for calling Cheney a liar should watch this video from Tuesday in which Cheney lies to CNN and, much more remarkably, CNN suggests that Cheney lied: http://afterdowningstreet.org/cheney2
Any Congress Member still unwilling to get behind impeaching Cheney, should at the very least sign on for the impeachment of an Attorney General who openly lies to Congress.