Pelosi pressed to put impeachment back on table
When the California Democratic Convention begins this weekend, party progressives both inside and outside the San Diego Convention Center will be pressing hard to bring impeachment back on the table as a means of holding the presidency of George W. Bush accountable for crimes they allege have been committed since 2001.
"I've been blown away by the response. People are wanting to organize and rally behind one single thing at the convention, and that's impeachment," said Joye Swan of the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party, who is helping lead an effort to pass a resolution expressing the California Democratic Party's support for impeaching President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
But the fight will be complicated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's unwillingness to hear their message and the encouragement that her stance may give opponents of the impeachment measure within the California Democratic Party leadership.
Pro-impeachment actions planned
The 2007 California Democratic Convention kicks off on Friday, and its agenda shows there is a lot of ground to cover. But a significant number of activists are eager to make the impeachment of the President a focal point of activity.
"Be it Resolved, that George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney, by such conduct, warrant impeachment and trial, and removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States," reads a resolution that Swan, a Democratic delegate from California's 42nd Assembly District in Los Angeles, will introduce, with the hopes it will be adopted as the party's position.
[The full resolution is available at the end of this article.]
"Of all issues that we need to address, whether it's the war, health care, or clean money, impeachment was the one thing that the blogosphere and activist networks seem to have rallied around," Swan explained to RAW STORY. "So it's not going to be a boring convention, and I'm really looking forward to it."
But the promotion of impeachment won't be confined to paper resolutions and indoor politicking.
"We also have an outside strategy, with a human sign spelling out 'IMPEACH' on the beach at the state park about 15-20 minutes from the convention center, and then we'll come to Martin Luther King Park, directly across the street from the convention center, and we'll have a rally there as well," said Matthew Gerbasi, the Impeachment Working Group Coordinator at the Progressive Democrats of America, who is helping to organize the rallies.
Gerbasi's actions will be part of a national day of action on impeachment scheduled for this Saturday, April 28. The week's pro-impeachment activities were kicked off with Rep. Dennis Kucinich's filing of Articles of Impeachment against Vice President Cheney in a Washington, DC press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
Changing Pelosi's mind a key, and difficult task
The California Progressives are particularly concerned with persuading Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to reverse her earlier position that impeachment was "off the table."
"With the Speaker saying it's off the table, it puts others Members of Congress at a lower tier," Gerbasi argued. "There are some representatives inching toward impeachment, but they may not commit until Pelosi changes her mind and puts it back on the table."
Pelosi first told her party that she opposed impeaching President Bush in a May 2006 caucus meeting.
To persuade Pelosi to change her position, Swan said, progressives at the convention intend to shadow the Speaker with their concerns throughout the weekend.
"She's either going to have to very publicly ignore it, or address the elephant in the room," Swan explained. "I'll be curious to see what happens at the dinner, which Pelosi is hosting; there are certain plans of action that will bring impeachment public while she's up speaking, and it will be interesting to see if she addresses it."
But Swan and her fellow Progressives' plans could be disrupted. The Saturday funeral of Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald, the California Democrat who passed away last weekend, could mean that Pelosi will miss much of the state party convention on Saturday, as she told RAW STORY in a conference call on Tuesday.
But even if Pelosi does attend the convention, Progressives won't find the Speaker any more receptive to impeaching the President than she was a year ago.
"I totally oppose the impeachment of the President," she explained to RAW STORY on Tuesday. "We have to use our energies to end this war. I don't think the popular support is there for such a move, I don't think we can get any Republican votes to move forward."
Pelosi added, "In some ways, it's a wonderful advocacy piece for those who want to use it outside, to express rejection of the President's policies, but from the standpoint of the time of the Congress of the United States, the American people are with us in ending the war and that's what they want us to do."
She also cast the decision not to impeach as having national electoral
implications for the Democratic Party, suggesting that President Bush "is not worth it."
"We will do more to make for our own reelection, and maintain a Democratic Congress...and have a Democratic President," she said. "And frankly, for impeachment, George W. Bush is just not worth it. We have great work to do for the American people."
State Democratic leaders agree with Pelosi
Leadership from the California Democratic Party appeared to agree with the Speaker that the state convention had better things to do than promote impeachment of the president or vice president.
"Our delegates are focused on one thing: impeaching President Bush and the Republicans on November 4, 2008," said Bob Mulholland, the Campaign Director of the California Democratic Party. "This weekend, you will hear from a party that's going to do that. The only way to get out of Iraq is to elect a Democrat in the White House, and anybody who gets in the way of that is part of the Bush-Cheney-Rove population."
Mulholland was unwilling to say to RAW STORY outright whether or not the Progressive Democrat-sponsored resolution would be blocked. But he did say, with some derision, that it was not necessary.
"We're not living in a nursing home, so we try not to repeat ourselves," Mulholland said, arguing that an impeachment motion had been passed last year. "The Resolutions Committee's job is to introduce new things, it can reaffirm the one we passed last year, we were way ahead of everybody else when we passed it last year."
Mulholland was referring to resolution he later sent to RAW STORY that was passed by the Executive Board of the California Democratic Party in January 2006, "calling for full investigation into possible abuses of power by
President George W. Bush and calling for appropriate remedies for such abuse."
Facially, the motion Mulholland referred to differed from the measure sought by Swan and her collaborators this year. While the 2006 measure called for an investigation of abuses, and subsequently for "the appropriate remedy and punishment, including impeachment, to be identified and followed to its conclusion," Swan's resolution is more strident. Indeed, the motion she will introduce seeks directly to encourage the California State Legislature to petition the US Congress to initiate impeachment proceedings.
Gerbasi said it was important for the resolution to be passed in this way.
"What we're doing now is writing a resolution that will become what the party stands for for the next two years," he said.
Swan admitted that a similar action could be undertaken now, but it was hard to find California legislators willing to go out on a limb and endorse it.
"We had Paul Koretz, the legislator who introduced Articles of Impeachment in the state legislature previously. In the past year, we've been trying to get someone else to re-introduce them, but everyone just says 'I'd be happy to be a co-sponsor," Swan explained.
But it was obvious she was looking forward to the challenge of successfully putting impeachment on the agenda of California Democrats.
"The resolution may pass right out of the committee, because that way they can quietly shuffle it into the proceedings of the convention, and not have it stand out too much. But maybe I give them too much credit," she said, before concluding "It actually is probably best for us if it gets rejected by the committee because I think we will win the floor vote. We represent pretty close to a plurality of all the delegates."
A draft version of the proposed impeachment resolution is included below.
Resolution to Impeach Bush & Cheney
WHEREAS, George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney have acted in a manner contrary to their trust as President and Vice President, subversive of constitutional government to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of California and the United States of America, by intentionally disseminating and propagating knowingly false and fabricated “evidence” regarding the threat from Iraq in order to wage an illegal war against a sovereign nation in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 371; and
WHEREAS, George W. Bush further acted to strip American citizens of their constitutional rights in violation of the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution, by ordering the National Security Agency to conduct electronic surveillance of American civilians without seeking warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, duly constituted by Congress in 1978, in violation of Title 50 United States Code, Section 1805; and, by suspending or denying the rights guaranteed by the Writ of Habeas Corpus by ordering infinite detention without access to legal counsel, without charge and without the opportunity to appear before a civil judicial officer to challenge the detention, based solely on the discretionary designation by the President of a US citizen as an “enemy combatant,” all in subversion of law; and
WHEREAS, George W. Bush, in violation of the US Constitution Article I Section 1, overstepped his legal authority by the use of signing statements used to ignore or circumvent portions of over 750 Congressional statutes he brought into law, including an amendment to the 2006 Defense Appropriations bill outlawing the use of “cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment” of prisoners in custody of the United States , thereby conspiring with Richard B. Cheney to commit torture of prisoners in violation of the “Federal Torture Act” Title 18 United States Code, Section 113C, the UN Torture Convention and the Geneva Convention, which under Article VI of the Constitution are part of the “supreme Law of the Land”; therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED that George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney, by such conduct, warrant impeachment and trial, and removal from office and disqualification to
hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the California Democratic Party commit to move the Legislature of the State of California to act under Section LIII, Section 603 of the Jefferson Manual and the Hinds Precedents, which allow impeachment to be set in motion “by charges transmitted from the legislature of a state”; and that the State Legislature, having acted through resolution to cause to be instituted in the Congress of the United States, in concert with their oath of office to defend the United States Constitution, proper proceedings for the investigation of the allegations against George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney, shall then transmit a copy of this resolution and its adoption by the Legislature to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, under the great seal of the State of California, marked with the word “Petition” at the top of the document and containing the authorizing signature of the Secretary of State; and that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, in conjunction with the Constitutional duty granted the office, shall route the petition to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.
Submitted by D. Joye Swan, 42nd AD Delegate