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Impeachment “Under Active Consideration" - Conyers

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

Impeachment Resolution "Under Active Consideration" By The Judiciary Committee

Following a discussion on “War and the Fourth Estate”, held in the Ways and Means Committee hearing room on Wednesday night, Rep. John Conyers—Chair of the Judiciary Committee—said that the impeachment resolution against Vice President Cheney is “under active consideration”. However, he stopped short of giving any indication of a timeline, saying that he can’t “telegraph” any information on what is “the most sensitive matter before the nation”.

During the discussion, which was organized by the Congressional Out of Iraq caucus headed by Rep. Maxine Waters, former Senator George McGovern, journalist Bob Woodward, and two other authors, Ron Suskind and Michael Isikoff, were asked by Rep. Stephen Cohen if—politics aside—they thought impeachment was warranted.

Isikoff, author of “Hubris”, suggested that Conyers should answer, but gave no answer himself. Woodward passed on the question of impeachment and said “there’s abundant evidence that it’s a legal war.” McGovern stated that he didn’t think “the mood of the country would carry it very far, but I do think misleading the Congress to get into the war is impeachable…. The grounds for impeachment are stronger than the ones we had against Nixon.” Suskind, author of “The One Percent Solution”, didn’t get the opportunity to answer, as Rep. Waters tried to move along the discussion.

Conyers then said to the four panelists, “Why is it all but one of you chose not even to speak to the issue? Every member up here is being besieged by people demanding an impeachment action be begun,” adding that “this is the subject that governs what happens in 2008. This is the subject that people are coming to us asking ‘if they don’t apply now, when will they ever apply?’”—meaning the impeachment provisions.

Woodward’s response was, “You’ve just fortified me in my resolve NOT to answer. What is the job of a reporter? It is limited. It is not the job of a reporter to make a judgment.” He pointed out that he didn’t do so even during the Watergate investigations, instead presenting facts in a neutral way, as is the job of a reporter. “To step out of that would be to cripple us. We need independent inquiry. We have a very limited role in this.”

Isikoff said he agreed with everything Woodward said, but that “there’s a lot we still don’t know.” On the question of whether it was a valid subject to be reporting, he thought Yes. Suskind responded that “All of us are trying to find the right line on the rule of law.” Earlier he said he thought that politicians and officials no longer thought it was bad policy to lie to a reporter, and that “you need to trust truth”.

The discussion had been announced last week, and tonight it coincided with floor votes on whether to debate the Iraq supplemental (HR 4156) that ties funding to troop withdrawal timelines, whether to pass an anti child pornography measure, and the debate on HR 4156 itself. At one time during the discussion, the only member of the House remaining in the committee room asking questions of the four authors was Eleanor Norton Holmes, who is the Washington DC Delegate to Congress. (Delegates are allowed to vote in committees, but in the House can only vote on amendments, where their votes are thrown out if they constitute the margin of victory.)

About twenty members of the public attended the event and the only daily media presence beside Scoop was a Fox cameraman. Although held in a committee room, it was not a formal committee hearing so was not recorded by the House. It ended after 8 pm.

The 10pm vote in the House on the passage of HR 4156—which passed 218 to 203—is here:

http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2007/roll1108.xml

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rosalea.barker@gmail.com

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