Friday, July 25, 2008

Live Blogging Hearing on Impeachment (Not Yet Impeachment Hearing)

Submitted by davidswanson on Fri, 2008-07-25

In this hearing we heard the case for impeachment from Kucinich, Wexler, Jackson-Lee, Johnson, Baldwin, Ellison, Hinchey, Holtzman, Anderson, Adams, and even Barr. We heard general support in that direction from Scott, Lofgren, and even Nadler (almost). And we heard Pence and Franks laughable and inculpating defenses along the lines of "Bush is not a crook." Not bad for the first day's work of the 110th Congress! Now, how about an impeachment hearing? We saw a lot of interest from committee members in the offense of signing statements, and also in the refusal to comply with subpoenas. Those are the issues that seem to have the most traction (and the least congressional complicity).

4:10 Nadler points out that whereas evidence was nonexistant or disputed, Bush asserted repeatedly that it was absolutely certain. Lundgren claims that Bush based that on the wisdom of intelligence agencies around the world [sic!]. [Even if that were true, isn't it a problem that US intelligence was full of doubts and major counter-evidence?]

4:05 Lundgren claims Bush meant well. Nadler asks about evidence on edited NIE presented today. Lundgren dismisses it. Audience laughs. Lundgren asks for people to be removed. Conyers says that if anyone causes a disruption at the end of the hearing they will be forbidden to attend any more hearings.

3:58: Ellison is trying again to get Presser to agree there are grounds for impeachment on the matter of war lies. He agrees, only if Kucinich's case is "proved." Ellison asks Radkin too, but he pulls out the "they meant well and sadly turned out to be wrong, which is different from intentionally lying." I'd like Kucinich to make the overwhelming case that Bugliosi has been making that they knowingly lied, but he instead makes the reasonable case that if all the assertions turn out to be false that is sufficient grounds for an impeachment inquiry.

3:55: Ellison is giving Kucinich another opportunity to speak about his article of impeachment on war lies, which he is doing at some length. Lundgren is the only Republican member still here. Conyers, Nadler, Scott, Lofgren, and Baldwin are here, and everyone is awake.

3:54 After Fein suggests a law banning use of funds for anything signing statemented, Ellison asks why the president couldn't just signing statement that new law. Fein had no answer.

3:45 Red Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is here for first time and expressing concern of some sort about signing statements.

3:38 Rep Schiff wants a new Church Committee to last into the next Congress, and he wants to White House to notify the Congress in a timely manner when it is about to violate laws. (I do hope I am hallucinating now.) Schwartz points out that there is already a law requiring that the president notify Congress when he will use a signing statement to claim the right to violate a law, but Bush has used a signing statement to erase the requirement that he notify Congress about signing statements. Schwartz points out also that we should have no secret laws whatsoever.

3:34 Baldwin raises danger of leaving Bush and Cheney unchecked for seven more months, in particular the possibility of an attack on Iran. What impact would an impeachment inquiry have on the possibility of attacking Iran? Anderson: wants a bill passed! (???) Bugliosi refuses to speculate.

3:30 Baldwin is bringing up John Nichols' book and the Bill Moyers show he was on with Fein. She's quoting Nichols account of presidential toolbox passing from president to president. And the toolbox now has more powers in it than ever before.

Lundgren is asleep now.

3:25 pm Rep Brad Sherman shows up for first time and says Congress has become mere advisors to White House. President won't obey laws. Any law to fix the problem will be vetoed. To Fein: is nonfeasance an impeachable offense? Fein: the "take care that laws are faithfully executed" comes from English Bill of Rights ... meaning Yes. Sherman is talking about signing statements. Sherman asks Holtzman if a prosecutor should bring a case if virtually certain of not getting a conviction? She says maybe.

Kucinich has gone out and come back with what is probably a stack of petition signatures in support of impeachment. Ellison is talking with Kucinich.

3:19 p.m. Rep Hank Johnson asks Presser about his testimony back in the day that if Clinton lied he should be impeached: if a president lied about taking a nation into war, would that be an impeachable offense? Presser says "you'd have to look into the circumstances...." Johnson turns to Holtzman, which is much more productive.

Nadler and Scott are both sleeping. No joke.

3:13 Rep Cohen asks Holtzman about what branch Cheney belongs to. Fein points out that a Senator has been impeached, so Cheney can claim he's in the legislative branch and be impeached. Cohen asks Fein whether it would be socially beneficial to impeach, or more important to do other things as Rep Watt advises. Fein says that impeaching Nixon was greatly unifying. He also says that there is penty of time since no investigation is needed. The president has confessed to viiolating FISA (witnesses are now routinely accusing the president of crimes and calling him "the president" against the rules).

3:03 Rep. Wexler says that ignoring subpoenas, spying, and torture, are - pace Pence - not "mere policy differences". Wexler expands on the subpoenas topic. Barr has left. Wexler wanted to ask him about statements he made in support of the rule of law during the Clinton impeachment. (Wexler may have been out of the room today when Barr came around in support of impeachment.) Rocky Anderson says Wexler is right, that we're not just talking about policy, but about Constitutional issues. Now, says Rocky, is the time for Congress to assert its power. Wexler now asks Fein about Mukasey coming before the committee and refusing to honor subpoenas. Fein says that's a clear impeachable offense on its own. Popular government can't work if the public can't know what its government is doing. You don't need an investigation to impeach: you just vote. [Go, Bruce!] Liz Holtzman adds that the president [OOPS, WHO? Can you say that?] has refused to give Congress what it needs to do its job and obstructs the work of Congress. She recommends holding an impeachment inquiry, requesting the information again, and if it is not provided then impeaching.

NOTE: Pacifica is terminating its broadcast, but we all appreciate them carrying the hearing up to this point.

3:02 Rep. Pence appears to be filibustering on his opposition to impeachment, chewing up time for no apparent purpose, asking three-minute questions that get three-word responses because they are just obvious rants.

2:53 p.m. One of the Repubicans tried to cut Bugliosi off by claiming he was discussing classified information. (He was discussing the declassified 2002 NIE.) The groans from the audience shut him up. Nobody said a thing about the groaning. Bugliosi was permitted to keep speaking.

2:43 Sheila Jackson-Lee (I kid you not) is urging passage of a bill to correct the abuse of signing statements (who spots the weakness in this strategy?). But she's now asking Fein to speak on war lies, and she's suggesting it's treason. And now she's giving Bugliosi a chance to expand on his case (the familiar case in his book, which many in this room have never heard).

2:36 At request of a Republican Conyers asks staff to remove signs. Staff is asking vets to remove buttons.

Tarak Kauff shouts that it's a disgrace when Bush is responsible for so many murders to demand that vets take off buttons. He's hauled out by police.

TJ Buomo refuses to take off his button, shouts out his 1st Amendment right and is hauled out by police.

Lori Arbeiter also refused to comply and was hauled out.

Liz Cater spoke up and tried to go help Lori and was threatened with removal until a bunch of us shouted that she'd done nothing, and the police backed off and she sat down.

2:26 Lofgren is still pushing idea of a truth and reconciliation commission. And Schwartz is recommending the 9-11 Commission as a model [I may be tired but I'm not hallucinating this.]

2:25 OK I've covered up my IMPEACH shirt because a friend thinks they'll try to arrest me for wearing it.

2:16 Republican Rep. Louis Gohmert: The president is not a crook, really! And: Never trust a Muslim!

2:10 The Judiciary Committee staff is begging me to cover up my IMPEACH shirt, and I'm refusing.

2:08 Rep Mel Watt here now for first time today. He said "If attorneys general are protecting me against terrorists, who is protecting me against THEM?" [Loud applause.] He then refuses to support impeachment. [silence] Did Pelosi send Watt here??

2:02 Franks has interrupted this hearing on the abuses of Bush and Cheney to let us know that we should all be VERY VERY AFRAID of Muslim terrorists. Then Franks says that if there was a failure, it was in allowing 9-11 to occur. [Wow, it's almost as if he's read Kucinich's article of impeachment on that very point. Yes, I'm kidding. He wouldn't ever have done that.]

1:49 Bobby Scott: Are we necessarily talking about impeachment or something other than impeachment or must it be impeachment, what other tool do we have to enforce limitations on executive power? Fein says that under Nixon when he was in Justice Dept they concluded you could not prosecute a president while in office, and concluded that impeachment was the only remedy for an abusive president. Barr added that Congress can pass laws. Holtzman said that doesn't matter if president is not bound to obey the laws, and that the real remedy is impeachment -- there's no running away from that. Bugliosi added that president can be prosecuted from the day he leaves office.

1:46 Congressman Kucinich has never left the room and is still sitting in the front row. People are still coming in -- all of them impeachment activists -- whenever a seat opens up.

1:42 King is still talking about shopping for uranium. Essentially his case amounts to "Yoo Hoo, Look way over here away from the Constitution. I'm making a giant ass of myself! Look Look!" See evidence re uranium lies HERE.

1:37 Nadler suggests impeachment is virtually impossible because conviction requires support of president's party. Holtzman says that impeachment can be bipartisan, as in fact it was with Nixon. But the Democrats led in the beginning and did not do a headcount before proceeding. The process was made completely fair. Southern Democats and Republicans joined in because it was fair to parties and fair to the president. And when we started nobody thought it would work. It did.

1:32 Nadler questions Schwartz assertion that impeachment is not practical. But prosecution faces possible block by pardons. Do we need to change pardon clause of the Constitution? [IS HE SERIOUS? Amend the Constitution to explicity bar the outrageous absurdity of self-pardoning??] Fein jumps in to say that a statute could require that pardons occur 8 months before leaving office, therby creating political penalty for abuse of the power.

1:30 Nadler suggests that even though executive privilege should not apply in an impeachment hearing, Bush might STILL assert it. Fein replies that remedy wold be an article of impeachment, as with Nixon.

1:28 Nadler tears down rightwing strawman that impeachment is about using presidency for personal gain, it's about abuse of power! If the Pres lied to Congres, and I think there's good evidence he did [Nadler just violated the HOLY RULE against calling the king a liar], it's impeachable. This prez claims right to call anyone in this room an enemy combatant and lock them up forever. This has never happened since Magna Carta in English-speaking countries. They torture. they don't prosecute their own crimes. There's no remedy by the executive branch! We've got to figure a way around this. [HOW ABOUT IMPEACHMENT?]

1:18 Lamar Smith citing fact that most people have discussed impeachment in this non-impeachment hearing. Presser claims Clinton impeachment had nothing to do with lying about sex, and that he has heard nothing today to suggest impeachable offenses. [YES! More "I am not a crook" discussion from the Republicans.] Radkin joining in: "He did not lie us into a war." Plus: "Lots of other presidents have lied us into wars too!" [Derrida called this kettle logic: I didn't break your kettle, it was broken when I borrowed it, they always break, and I never borrowed it at all.]

1:18 Q and A beginning.

Elliott Adams: he joked and passed on commenting.

Schwartz: Abuses of this president are unique. He claims the right to break any law and to do so secretly. This doctrine needs to be "squashed, disagreed with, and exposed." [HOW ABOUT IMPEACHED?]

Vincent Bugliosi beautifully challenges Presser's contention that a lie about sex is worse than a lie about war. Now Bugliosi is citing the WHITE HOUSE MEMO. Cindy Sheehan shouted out "Thank you, Vince!" Conyers said that his colleagues were urging him to take action. Cindy said "I urge YOU to take action!" Conyers said, "Well then, Sheehan you're out." Cindy left. Other impeachment advocates immediately came in to fill her seat and those of people who left with her.

Bruce Fein: Executive ONLY has powers we the people give him. Do all presidents spy during wars? No, and this is worse because this war is permanent. Robert Jackson at Nuremburg says that an abusive power unrebuked will lie around like a loaded weapon.

Stephen Presser: right to hold this hearing, but there is no evidence of fraudulent motives, and minority report of this committee shows that the admin has cooperated and acted in good faith.

Rocky Anderson: impeachment appropriate now, including for fraud in taking us into war by the pres... oops I mean hight ranking official of the administration.

Bob Barr: Our bill of rights is vanishing. He holds up and displys the Bill of Rights with most of it blacked out. He submits it into the record. Not my job to choose impeachment, but if choice is constitutional inquiry or silence, I choose inquiry. [One rightwinger won over already today!]

Liz H: Admin will never prosecute itself. Truth Commission won't work. Only impeachment is practical and possible. It eliminates executive privilege. Somebody get this bit onto Youtube ASAP!

12:58 Conyers letting each panelist add something in response to other panelists.

*****

12:53 Elliott Adams' excellent testimony. He's reading it now!

12:48 Fred Schwartz opposes impeachment as too late (as if he ever lifted a finger for it) but wants a big whopping "investigation" (which of course actually does take time, unlike impeaching Bush and Cheney on the grounds established today and over the past years).

12:44: A staffer is trying to get me to cover up my IMPEACH shirt and I'm refusing.

12:41 Rightwing minority witness Jeremy Radkin says war lies is clearly most important charge, but claims its "wild conspiracy charges." And, so, all other charges should be ignored as less important, and then this charge should be ignored as crazy.

12:34 Bugliosi is giving abbreviated version of his usual powerful rap on Bush lying us into war. AND he's calling for referral of criminal charges to the Justice Department (are you kidding me, Vince? you were going to advocate impeachment, not futility). Great rhetoric, though. [Strong applause results in Republican call to clear the room and Conyers refusal but repeated admonition.

12:32 Conyers is introducing Vince Bugliosi, holding up his book "The Prosecution of George W. Bush for murder."

12:25 Bruce Fein is now reading his excellent statement, posted earlier on this website.

12:20 p.m. Rightwing lawyer Stephen Presser making case that his brain has been absent from the room for the past couple of hours AND that Bill Clinton was a president who really merited impeachment. He claims that stating a theory about "unitary executive" is not an impeachable offense, but he's the first today to have suggested that.

Note: more citizens (all for impeachment) are gradually filling in more seats as staffers grow tired and hungry.

Go below and also keep watching for new posts here...See Elliot Adams Statement above...

2 comments:

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