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Nadler Is Blocking Impeachment

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A private off-the-record meeting was held on Capitol Hill on Wednesday that included House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Subcommittee on the Constitution Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Judiciary Committee Member and advocate for opening Cheney impeachment hearings Robert Wexler, and several other committee members, activists, staffers, and former staffers from the Watergate days. I wasn't there, so I'm free to talk about what happened.

Wexler proposed opening impeachment hearings on Cheney. Conyers committee staffer Perry Appelbaum laid out instead a schedule for non-impeachment hearings over the coming 11 months. Conyers' notion is to hold non-impeachment hearings on "the imperial presidency" and run out the clock. I guess that would be sort of like a dozen police officers paying a non-arresting visit to the home of a mass murderer. Seriously? An "imperial" president, and you don't impeach him, and you don't retire or commit suicide? This baffles me.

Now, there are topics that have not been touched in congressional investigations over the past 12 months, such as the Iraq war lies. But a lot of the other topics have already been gone over, just absent the I word. What will differentiate the new non-impeachment hearings from the past year's worth of non-impeachment hearings? Of course, getting witnesses to show up and testify would be a change, but without impeachment, nothing will compel any witnesses to testify who have previously refused.

One of the big topics this group wants to go after is the firing of U.S. Attorneys, and - contrary to the position expressed today by the Democratic leadership - this group was in agreement that Congress should vote on contempt citations for Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten. But, even understanding that nothing was going to budge on that any time soon, most of the Congress Members present still refused to back Wexler's proposal.

The chief opponent of impeachment hearings was not Conyers. It was Nadler. Nadler argued strongly against any use of the I word. He argued that Congress should focus on passing bills, even though they will be vetoed, and then pass them again next year.

Arguing for keeping open the possibility of impeachment hearings developing out of the non-impeachment hearings was Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson. Daniel Ellsberg was also among those backing impeachment hearings.

Conyers and some subgroup plan to take their proposal for non-impeachment imperial abuse hearings to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to request her blessing. She is, of course, most likely to share Nadler's position. She may have given Nadler his position, or perhaps it originated with Hillary Clinton, but it sounds most likely that Nadler has simply been speaking for himself: he honestly opposes impeachment hearings, even for emperors.

Nadler's constituents have been among the most dedicated activists, many of them repeatedly sitting in at his office for impeachment and going to jail. One group has just set up a website solely to allow people all over the country to Email Nadler on this issue: http://asknadler2impeach.org
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Nadler chairs the most relevant subcommittee and could open Cheney impeachment hearings in that subcommittee tomorrow if he chose to do so. The full House voted to send articles of impeachment on Cheney to the Judiciary Committee last November.

Wednesday's meeting was handicapped, of course, because no-one says aloud what the reasons are for opposing impeachment. That Cheney and Bush have committed impeachable offenses is universally understood. But the arguments against impeaching them (other priorities, bipartisanship, we don't have the votes, etc.) usually sound like lame cover for whatever the real reason is. I suspect the real reason is built into Nadler's plan of wasting a year in order to pass bills next year. He assumes that in 2009 there will be either a better Congress or a better president (he backs Hillary Clinton), or both.

Sadly, history says otherwise. For 230 years, the party that brings impeachment wins, and the party that fails to do so when it's called for loses. Conyers was there when the Democrats moved to impeach Nixon and then won big. He was there when they refused to impeach Reagan and then lost. And most of the current committee was there when the Republicans impeached Clinton against the will of the public for a non-impeachable offense and still won both houses of Congress and the White House.

When the Democrats held back from impeachment during Iran Contra, they lost the next elections. When the Democrats led the effort to investigate and impeach Nixon, they won big in the next election, even though Ford was running as an incumbent. When the Republicans tried to impeach Truman, they got what they wanted out of the Supreme Court and then won the next elections. Articles of impeachment have been filed against 10 presidents, usually by Republicans, and usually with electoral success following. When the Republicans impeached Clinton, impeachment was actually unpopular with the public. Even so, the Republicans lost far fewer seats than is the norm for a majority party at that point in its tenure. Two years later, they lost seats in the Senate, which had acquitted, but maintained their strength in the House, with representatives who had led the impeachment charge winning big.

Parties that seek to impeach are not punished at the next election. In fact, they frequently improve their position -- as evidenced by the Democrats in 1974, Republicans in 1952, and all the way back to the Whigs of last century. In every election back to 1842 where House members of an opposition party to a sitting president have -- as a whole or a significant caucus within the party -- proposed impeachment of the president, that opposition party retained or improved its position in the House at the following election. There is no instance of voters responding to a significant impeachment effort by sweeping its advocates out of office. In fact, history points in a different direction, suggesting that voters frequently reward parties for taking the Constitution and the rule of law seriously.
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And we wouldn't wait until the next election to reward members of Congress who put impeachment back in the Constitution. The minute Pelosi or Conyers or Nadler opens the door to impeachment hearings, every activist organization in this country and around the world that works on behalf of peace or justice or the rule of law will flood them with flowers, donations, volunteers, and support.

And if Fox News says one word, we will shut it down.


Take action -- click here to contact your local newspaper or congress people:
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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)

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Two comments:1) In comparing impeachment hearings ... by Josh Mitteldorf on Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 10:22:16 PM
It is unacceptable for Nadler, Conyers, Pelosi, Re... by Dan Lion on Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 at 10:36:46 PM
AMericans you are the  dumbest beasts of burd... by dave stanley on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 2:16:04 AM
The only Dem to mention War Crimes is Kucinich and... by RLAnchors on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 11:42:50 AM
Ok, everyone time to join hands here as AMERICANS ... by Bruce Deloney on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 6:39:52 AM
Hello David, you might not read my emails but you ... by Maher Osseiran on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 6:47:59 AM
I certainly have felt that the right road is to in... by Professor Fandel on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 1:21:49 PM
Hoping that someone is working behind the scenes i... by Gregory Wonderwheel on Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 6:46:30 PM
Rep. John Olver, according to a pretty credible r... by Stephen Demetriou on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 7:13:28 AM
If true that Bush and company threatened aggressiv... by John Sanchez Jr. on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 8:24:21 AM
Indeed, you are correct. Treason is FAR more possi... by Professor Fandel on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 4:01:55 PM
http://youtube.com/theyareguilty... by Dan Lion on Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 1:23:42 AM
I have another idea on this David, and it is the h... by Dom Jermano on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 7:35:03 AM
They will continue to fiddle around as the new Rom... by john riggs on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 7:37:14 AM
That is why, any effort to remove Bush and Cheney ... by Maher Osseiran on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 8:00:51 AM
Read my response to you earlier, Maher. I totally ... by Professor Fandel on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 1:27:11 PM
The idea to document the crimes is on target. ... by Bill Samuel on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 8:51:52 AM
We would like to have the subpoenas come down with... by ladybroadoak on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 9:53:32 AM
http://www.bushcommission.org/?q=node/42... by Mars Caulton on Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 7:11:34 PM
This is my personal opinion on impeachment.  ... by Sleeper on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 10:43:45 AM
I find "Maher's" enlightened prospec... by shirley reese on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 9:32:03 AM
The question is not whether we should impeach or n... by William Cormier on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 11:16:14 AM
is there a mechanism for removing congress people ... by George Washington on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 12:40:07 PM
Don't vote for them in the future or...wait un... by Professor Fandel on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 3:44:20 PM
The big question is why after all the numerous rea... by Mr M on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 1:28:13 PM
Comments advocate everything from anarchy to hopin... by Jim Freeman on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 4:11:05 PM
you said:Pelosi and Co. will not impeach because D... by richard on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 6:51:01 PM
I believe the failure of the Dem leadership to tak... by JonmarkP on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 4:36:11 PM
Your comment makes one wonder whether maintaining ... by Tom Chechatka on Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 12:38:36 PM
Treason trials are important because they will be ... by Maher Osseiran on Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 7:42:48 AM
From my longer response here:The current target of... by Dana Pico on Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 5:58:39 PM
Historically, impeachment helps the impeaching par... by Gregory Wonderwheel on Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 6:43:36 PM
So tell me this! If we had a stellar President eve... by Dom Jermano on Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 7:46:40 PM
[ http://carolynbaker.net/site/content/view/300/ ]... by Dan Lion on Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 8:53:44 PM
Seriously? An "imperial" president, and ... by Gregory Wonderwheel on Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 6:36:39 PM
I hear from many that justice needs to be delayed ... by Maher Osseiran on Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 8:53:02 PM
And treason it has been for some time now. And how... by Dan Lion on Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 9:01:46 PM
 WELL LINK TV WAS FUNDED I.8 MILLION DOLLORS ... by RICHARD SHADE on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 5:55:25 AM
Thanks for the info.Been trying to get Amy to pick... by Maher Osseiran on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 8:14:00 AM