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Bush impeachment debate focuses on subpoenas

With the Democratic leadership still staunchly against impeachment, it remains unlikely that Chairman Conyers will bring hearings on Rep. Kucinich’s 35 articles of impeachment. David Swanson suggests that the most likely road to impeachment would include article 27, which charges the Executive with failing to comply with Congressional subpoenas.

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Story Transcript

MATTHEW PALEVSKY, JOURNALIST, TRNN: On June 9, Congressman Kucinich introduced 35 articles of impeachment against President Bush on issues ranging from illegal wiretapping to torture. Surprisingly, Article 27 has gained the most traction, accusing the executive of failing to comply with congressional subpoenas. Subpoenas that have been ignored include those for White House chief of staff Joshua Bolton and deputy chief of staff Karl Rove. I spoke with David Swanson, co-founder of afterdowningstreet.org, a leading activist in the impeachment movement, and former press secretary to Congressman Kucinich.

DAVID SWANSON, CO-FOUNDER, AFTERDOWNINGSTREET.ORG: Article 27 out of the 35 already introduced is one that we’re hearing a surprising amount of interest on from people who go and talk to their Congress members, including Republicans. A lot of Congress members are saying, "Look, I’m actually interested in the fact that you can impeach a president for refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas." Now, they passed three articles of impeachment against Nixon, way back when, in the Judiciary Committee, Article 3 was "refusing to comply with subpoenas." Here we have a president and a vice president who do that routinely and who order former staffers not to comply, which is obstruction of justice. This is way beyond Richard Nixon, and these subpoenas are all about impeachable offenses. And finally, I mean, it’s been completely predictable, but it’s taken these many months for Congress members to send the requests, have them rejected, send the subpoenas, have them rejected, send the contempt citations, have them rejected, and finally realize that, hey, wait a minute, if we’ve unilaterally disarmed, we’ve taken impeachment off the table, the White House has no reason to comply with anything else. And so we have this absolutely unprecedented situation where the executive branch refuses to pay any attention to the legislative branch. This is our power.

PALEVSKY: Is there going to be a sense of playing "gotcha" if you impeach the president on not complying with subpoenas instead of the issues that have created outrage, like illegal wiretapping and torture? In other words, could subpoenas be seen as a technicality?

SWANSON: Well, I mean, we’re not playing anything. It’s not a game. This is deadly serious. And if you have a president who lies us into a war, and when Congress asks for information, "Can we have the paperwork from the White House Iraq Group?"—this marketing committee that worked out of this White House behind me to sell the public a fraudulent war—and they say, "No. Go to hell," the next step in order to enforce those sorts of subpoenas is impeachment. Impeachment is the tool that the Constitution gives our representatives to hold the White House accountable. And so it’s all part of the same process. The subpoenas are about turning the Justice Department into a branch of the Republican Party. The subpoenas are about the illegal war. The subpoenas are about the illegal spying. And if you can’t get the subpoenas enforced, you have to go to the next step.

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Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.