Democratic senator: Impeachment 'sucks all of the oxygen out of the air'
05/02/2007 @ 1:45 pmFiled by Miriam Raftery
Gravel: Impeachment 'will come, in due course'
At last week’s debate, Democratic Presidential candidates were asked to raise their hands if they would support impeachment. Other than Rep. Dennis Kucinich (who introduced impeachment papers against Cheney), not a single candidate raised their hand. So RAW STORY decided to find out why.
At the California Democratic Convention in San Diego over the weekend, RAW STORY obtained responses directly from Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CONN), and 2008 candidates New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and former Alaskan Senator Mike Gravel, then elicited help from a blogger present to pose the question to Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and former North Carolina Senator John Edwards. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) did not host a press conference and was not available to the media. The question was posed slightly differently for various candidates, depending on availability.
The most detailed response came from Gravel during a press conference. RAW STORY listed several potential grounds for impeachment, including starting a war on apparently false premises, issuing signing statements that ignore the will of Congress, abolishing habeus corpus, and declaring the "right" to spy on Americans’ e-mails even as the White House itself "loses" thousands of e-mails now requested by Congress.
“Don’t worry about impeachment,” Gravel said in a reassuring tone, adding that he has held discussions with House Judiciary Chair John Conyers (D-MI). “That will come, in due course.”
Gravel plan could land Bush 'behind bars'
Gravel criticized the President as a “lousy and immoral” commander in chief, but also levied criticism at Democrats for only passing a non-binding resolution to end the war. Nor does the former senator believe simply cutting off funds would work. “I filibustered to end funding in the Vietnam War, but it was not successful,” he recalled.
Instead, Gravel revealed a novel plan to bring about an end to the Iraq War, impeachment, or possibly both—and perhaps even land the President 'behind bars.'
“I have drafted a law that says we must get troops out of Iraq in 60 days,” he said. “Leave all the equipment behind…The President must certify that he took troops out. If he violates this law he should go to jail for five years with no parole, and pay a $1 million fine. It says so right in the law.”
He believes he could muster enough support in the House to pass the bill. If the Senate filibusters, he would urge Reid to call for a cloture vote daily. “The media will feed on this like maggots,” said Gravel, who predicts the measure would pass and that a veto could ultimately be overridden. If the President and Vice President then refuse to enact the law, he concluded, “once you have them breaking the law, now you impeach.”
Dodd: 'I've been down that road'
RAW STORY caught up with Dodd at a dinner honoring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. We asked what kind of example it sets for kids across America if Congress fails to impeach the President and Vice President for lying about the justification for war, violating the Constitution, and issuing signing statements declaring the right to ignore laws passed by Congress.
“I’ve been down that road,” said Dodd, who shook his head and recalled the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton as he hastened away. “It sucks all of the oxygen out of the air.”
In a hallway after a press conference, we asked Richardson what message it sends to kids regarding accountability if Congress fails to hold the President and Vice President accountable for their actions.
“We should enforce our laws,” said Richardson, but stopped short of supporting impeachment. “This is why I’m for the deauthorization,” he added in an apparent reference to deauthorizing the President’s use of military force in Iraq.
Our blogger ally prodded a delegate at a packed meet-and-greet with supporters to pose the question to John Edwards. The blogger phrased the question this way: “If Congress can’t get votes to override the President’s veto, is impeachment a viable alternative to ending this war?”
According to the blogger, Edwards replied, “No, just keep sending him the bill.”
No candidate understands the ramifications of impeachment more fully than former First Lady Hillary Clinton. The New York senator's husband was impeached for 'obstruction of justice' and 'perjury' after denying to a grand jury that he had "sexual relations" with a White House intern, but the Senate acquitted him in 1999. Asked by a bystander to support impeachment of Bush, the former first lady replied, “I understand the sentiment,” then jested, “We will impeach him in November 2008,” according to our blogger source.