"Despite the clear case, impeachment has become a taboo word in D.C. politics. A chasm has emerged between high-level politicians too afraid to push for accountability, the media that seeks the "news" that comes from these politicians and their circles, and the American public they are supposed to be serving.
In a recent Zogby poll, Americans were asked what would restore their trust in government and the No. 1 reply was "personnel changes/impeachment." As David Swanson of impeachpac.org notes, polls by Ipsos, Zogby and American Research Group have found support between 43 percent and 53 percent. And if it's Democrats, the numbers shoot up to 80-90 percent, with a consistent majority of Independents supporting impeachment."
David, welcome to the Ed Schultz show.
David Swanson: Hi Jim. Thanks for having me.
Jim Lampley: It's my privilege. What is the latest status in your view of the discussion and the potential move for impeachment of Bush & Cheney?
David Swanson: Well there are a number of angles that are being pursued. One is passage of resolutions in cities and states and you know we’re up to 19 cities that have passed resolutions maybe more that I don’t know about. One labor union, now the labor movement is starting to get into this. 12 state democratic parties have passed this despite entire opposition across the board by leadership. And 3 state legislatures have introduced resolutions and you know the rules of the House show, and this was little known before recent months, that if a state legislature sends a petition to the House, that can start impeachment proceedings. But just the day before yesterday, the city of Berkeley put impeachment on the ballot for November. And that was a first and a lot of towns and cities are now suddenly looking at putting impeachment on the ballot. And you know, anybody who cared about voter turnout would do that nationally. You know there's nothing gonna turn people out more. But the media is absolutely nuts about this. I think largely because Fox News hates Berkeley but that’s working to our advantage because impeachment is all over the news suddenly.
Jim Lampley: Well, of course resolutions for impeachment on local ballots such as in Berkeley or elsewhere amount mostly to public relations, mostly to the expression of public sentiment, an attempt to get the attention of representatives in congress. But it appears quite obvious, ya know it's really, it goes without saying, that any legitimate move towards impeachment would require Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. Correct?
David Swanson: That’s correct, largely is correct. And I’m not entirely when …when a number of towns in Vermont passed impeachment resolutions Congressman Bernie Sanders immediately signed onto John Conyers bill, which he had adamantly refused to do so. So there is some influence on congress members when towns and cities in their district get involved. John Conyers bill, House Resolution 635, is not articles of impeachment, which themselves are just the beginning of a process. It’s a step before that, it’s let’s have a preliminary investigation of whether crimes have been committed. And given that so many crimes are already public knowledge, you would think any congress member, Republican or Democrat, who put the Constitution above the short term interest of their party, would sign onto that bill. To the contrary, we have only 37 at this point signed on. But we do know that if the Democrats have a majority in January, there will be investigations in the Judiciary Committee. The question will then become whether the Bush administration ignores subpoenas. Whether they do or not, because so many impeachable offenses are public knowledge, an investigation in effect leads inevitably to an impeachment effort.
Ed Lampley: There will be hearings, potentially, on Capitol Hill, about pre-war intelligence, there will be hearings about NSA investigations of citizens without warrants and without court orders, etc. What do you see as the central crimes, the ones most presentable for this argument, the ones which would be most critical in the articles of impeachment?
David Swanson: Well I think John Dean from the Nixon administration is correct when he says this is the first President who’s confessed to an impeachable offense and there he’s referring to FISA, to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and Bush’s announcement that he simply intends to violate it because as Commander In Chief he can do what he wants and because when congress authorized him to use force after 9/11, they implicitly, although it didn’t say anything about this, allowed him various things. Well yesterday’s ruling from the Supreme Court shatters both of those arguments on any number of issues and is a tremendous boost to the efforts to have the rule of law, to have checks and balances. But the spying is one issue, the detaining without charge and without access to counsel that the Supreme Court's ruling addresses is another issue, the use of torture is another issue, intentionally misleading the congress and the public in order to launch a war, an aggressive and illegal war, combines a number of issues and may ultimately be the strongest article of impeachment. And then you have the general abuse of power, the signing of over 750 signing statements stating you know I will sign this bill into law, but I don’t intend to obey it. An once you get onto the war, you get into the targeting of civilians, the targeting of journalists, the using of chemical weapons and depleted uranium and on and on. You know, its any one of these crimes, you can look back and find some previous president who did it. But the combination of this incredible assault on democracy and the rule of law is what makes this the sort of case where if we don’t impeach, we’re really taking it out of the Constitution and saying we won’t impeach ever again unless it’s for sex.
Jim Lampley: Political question, David. What if I were to say you, I think the better course for the future of liberal politics and progressive politics in this country, rather than to impeach the President and harden Republican support around him, is simply to leave him in place and allow him to continue to damage and fragment conservative politics with his daily activities?
David Swanson: I would say you need to check some facts, that you may have been reading to many RNC talking points, and that you may not be to blame for that in that Nancy Pelosi has taken them and given them to the Democratic Caucus. I have not seen a shred of evidence that raising the impeachment issue hardens Republicans or turns out Republicans to vote. In fact, all of the evidence I’ve seen in polls and surveys suggest quite the opposite, that there is no better issue for turning out Democrats and Independents in the upcoming elections than impeachment. And across the board the analysts from the Democratic side will tell you and Democracy Core had a study recently that tells you, if a congressional candidate wants to win against a Republican, they need to nationalize it, they need to make it against Bush, they need to make it exciting and turn out their base and there is no better way to do that than impeachment.
Jim Lampley: Very quickly. Are there Republicans in congress who would support impeachment?
David Swanson: There are Republicans who have said in unguarded moments on television that there were impeachable offenses, including Ron Paul and Senator Specter. But there is not a single Republican who has even signed onto John Conyers bill. And that’s disgraceful. There were Democrats who held Lyndon Johnson accountable. We need to start pushing the more moderate Republicans, what’s left of them, to put the Constitution ahead of George W. Bush.
Jim Lampley: Disgraceful is exactly the word. Thank you very much. David Swanson, from AfterDowningStreet.com and ImpeachPAC.org. Go to either of those websites and you can keep up with his activities as this question continues to coalesce. Thanks again for your time.
David Swanson: Thanks for having me.
Ed Lampley: Alright , our privilege. I’m Jim Lampley filling in for Ed Schultz on the Ed Schultz show.