Faced with an obstructionist leadership in the House, and a mainstream media that have forsaken their role as a Fourth Estate monitor of government abuse, three Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee are calling on the public to demand that the Congress initiate impeachment hearings immediately against Vice President Dick Cheney.
Speaking at a telephone press conference Friday organized by Democrats.com, Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) said that following a bi-partisan vote Nov. 7 by the full House to send Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s Cheney impeachment bill (H Res 799, formerly H Res 333) to the Judiciary Committee, it was time for those hearings to “immediately” get underway.
Scoffing at the argument that has been made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others in the Democratic leadership that impeachment might hurt Democratic chances in the November ’08 elections, or that it could deter Democrats from their Congressional agenda, Wexler, a six-term congressman seeking re-election, says, “I believe that there is a constitutional obligation for the Congress to hold this administration accountable, and it should not depend on what people think the impact might be on an election. The only question should be: Did Vice President Cheney abuse his powers?”
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He adds, “If the American people believe that the democrats are holding a legitimate inquiry into serious issues of constitutional importance, they will not hold it against them. And besides, initial polling would indicate that this is not some off-the-reservation idea.”
The Florida legislator, who had not been among the 22 co-sponsors of the impeachment bill submitted last April 24 by Rep. Kucinich, says that by beginning impeachment hearings in the House, “We would create our own fate, and we shouldn’t be afraid of that fate.”
Noting that the Democratic congressional leadership has been opposing impeachment by saying that they were sent to Washington “to act on issues like insuring children and ending the war,” Wexler says, “We have followed that strategy for a year now, and what we have been met with is a president who will not sign any of these measures and a Senate mired in filibusters. We have nothing to lose by starting impeachment.”
A major problem in challenging the Democratic leadership, however, has arisen in the form of a national media that simply ignores the growing national impeachment movement and the growing calls for impeachment within the Congress. Wexler reports that an opinion article penned by himself and two Judiciary Committee colleagues, Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), which was sent to a number of leading newspapers, including the Miami Herald, the Washington Post and the New York Times, was rejected for publication—an astonishing act of censorship for a document authored by three members of congress on an issue of such significance as impeachment of the vice president.
In that article, Wexler, Gutierrez and Baldwin write:
The issues at hand are too serious to ignore, including credible allegations of abuse of power that if proven may well constitute high crimes and misdemeanors under our constitution. The charges against Vice President Cheney relate to his deceptive actions leading up to the Iraq war, the revelation of the identity of a covert agent for political retaliation, and the illegal wiretapping of American citizens.
Now that former White House press secretary Scott McClellan has indicated that the Vice President and his staff purposefully gave him false information about the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson as a covert agent to report to the American people, it is even more important for Congress to investigate what may have been an intentional obstruction of justice. Congress should call Mr. McClellan to testify about what he described as being asked to “unknowingly [pass] along false information.” In addition, recent revelations have shown that the Administration including Vice President Cheney may have again manipulated and exaggerated evidence about weapons of mass destruction -- this time about Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
Asked why he thought leading publications had refused to publish the op-ed piece calling for an immediate start to impeachment hearings, Wexler says, “I think the mainstream media, at least thus far, have bought the notion that impeachment hearings are outside the bounds of what Congress ought to be doing.”
He adds that there may be a fear, on the part of corporate media executives and editors, and on the part of Democratic Party congressional leaders, of having been “complicit” in many of the administration’s constitutional crimes. “There may be some significant conflicts of interest,” he says, that could make them feel uncomfortable about the idea of impeachment hearings.
To push back against this unseemly resistance Rep. Wexler and his two House colleagues have decided to go public with their message. Wexler has set up a website, called WexlerWantsHearings. He is urging Americans from across the country to go to the sign and sign on to his call for an immediate start to hearings. “I want to be able to go to my colleagues in the house and say I have 55,000 people calling for hearings,” he says.
People should also be contacting their local and national media outlets—and especially the New York Times, Washington Post and Miami Herald—demanding that they report openly and honestly on the growing impeachment movement, and that they publish the Wexler, Gutierrez Baldwin op-ed.
While he does not say where he thinks House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) stands at this point on the subject of starting hearings on the long-stalled Kucinich impeachment bill, which has languished in a subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee for over half a year, Rep. Wexler said he has spoken with Conyers about the matter. “I have a lot of confidence in John,” he says.
Wexler’s, Gutierrez’s and Baldwin’s new push on impeachment comes just as Kucinich, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, has announced that he is preparing to file a major bill of impeachment against President Bush. Kucinich is reportedly working on a sweeping 50-page impeachment bill containing over 20 counts of high crimes and misdemeanors against the president.
Asked about this, and whether it would alter his push for early hearings on Cheney’s impeachable crimes, Wexler says no. While pointedly agreeing that the president is likely guilty of the same abuses of power that are being alleged against Cheney, “and probably others in addition,” he says it makes sense to focus first on the vice president. “Strategically, I think we are on stronger ground pursuing the vice president.”
If you want to call members of the Judiciary and give them a piece of your mind, here are the numbers:
House Judiciary and their ZIP+4 codes when their "email" form requires it:
Name District Local # D.C. # ZIP
John Conyers Chair MI-14 734-675-4084 202-225-5126 48183
Howard Berman CA-28 (818) 994-7200 (202)225-4695 91411
Rick Boucher VA-9 (276)628-1145 (202)225-3861 24210
Jerrold Nadler NY-8 (212)367-7350 (202)225-5635 11224-4561
Robert Scott VA-3 (757)380-1000 (202)225-8351 23607-4333
Melvin Watt NC-12 (704)344-9950 (202)225-1510 28208
Zoe Lofgren CA-16 (408)271-8700 (202)225-3072 95112-5162
Sheila Jackson Lee TX-18 (713)655-0050 (202)225-3816 77002
William Delahunt MA-10 (508)771-0666 (202)225-3111 02601
* Robert Wexler FL-19 (561)988-6302 (202)225-3001 33431
Linda Sanchez CA-39 (562)860-5050 (202)225-6676 90703
Steve Cohen TN-9 (901)544-4131 (202)225-3265 38103
Hank Johnson GA-4 (770)987-2291 (202)225-1605 30058
*Luis Gutierrez IL-4 (773)384-1655 (202)225-8203 60647-4841
Brad Sherman CA-28 (818)501-9200 (202)225-5911 91403
Anthony Weiner NY-9 (718)520-9001 (202)225-6616 11415
Adam Schiff CA-29 (626)304-2727 (202)225-4176 91103-3966
Artur Davis AL-7 (205)254-1960 (202)225-2665 35203-4014
Debbie Wasserman Schultz FL20 954-437-3936 202-225-7931 33180
* Tammy Baldwin WI-2 (608)258-9800 (202)225-2906 53703
Keith Ellison MN-5 (612)522-1212 (202)225-4755 55411-3675
Maxine Waters CA-35 (323)757-8900 (202)225-2201 90003
Lamar S. Smith Ranking TX-21 512-306-0439 202-225-4236 78746
Jim Sensenbrenner WI-5 (262)784-1111 (202)225-5101 53005
Howard Coble NC-6 (336)333-5005 (202)225-3065 27408
Elton Gallegly CA-24 805)497-2224 (202)225-5811 91361-3018
Bob Goodlatte VA-6 (540)432-2391 (202)225-5431 22802-3707
Steve Chabot OH-1 (513)684-2723 (202)225-2216 45202
Dan Lungren CA-3 (916)859-9906 (202)225-5716 95670-6307
Chris Cannon UT-3 (801)851-2500 (202)225-7751 N/A
Ric Keller FL-8 (407)872-1962 (202)225-2176 32801-2046
Darrell Issa CA-49 (760)599-5000 (202)225-3906 92081-7515
Mike Pence IN-6 (765)640-2919 (202)225-3021 46016-1713
Randy Forbes VA-4 (757)382-0080 (202)225-6365 23320
Steve King IA-5 (641)782-2495 (202)225-4426 51503-0817
Tom Feeney FL-24 (407)208-1106 (202)225-2706 32129
Trent Franks AZ-2 (623)776-7911 (202)225-4576 85308-8559
Louie Gohmert TX-1 (903)236-8597 (202)225-3035 75961
Jim Jordan OH-4 (419)522-5757 (202)225-2676 44902-1243
(*: Publicly supports Wexler)
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