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Waxman Says He Will Keep an Open Mind on Impeachment
By Marcy Winograd
Congressman Waxman, Chair of the House Oversight Committee, told an impeachment delegation meeting with him in his Los Angeles office, Tues., Aug. 7, 2007, that he would mull over his constituents' articulate arguments, watch the Bill Moyers' interview on impeachment, and weigh whether there was sufficient evidence to, not just impeach, but convict Bush and Cheney.
Waxman told the delegation it was not enough to believe Bush and Cheney were responsible for high crimes; his decision to support or co-sponsor an impeachment resolution must be predicated on the knowledge that there is overwhelming evidence for a conviction.
Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles, California's 41st Assembly District Delegates, the Los Angeles National Impeachment Center, and the LA Green Party participated in the office delegation, while a group of impeachment supporters rallied outside, holding Impeachment is Patriotic signs and a 14-foot banner that read "Impeachment is on Our Table."
Inside, the 14 impeachment lobbyists meeting with Waxman offered multiple arguments. Marcy Winograd, the principle organizer of the delegation and the President of Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles, said the country was on the precipice of a police state with each new Presidential directive criminalizing dissent; Peter Thottam, a Green Party activist and the founder of the LA National Impeachment Center, referred to the many hundreds of thousands of people killed as a result of the Bush administration's lies that led the nation to war; Joye Swan, a leader of the Progressive Caucus in the California Democratic Party, referred to a sign in Waxman's lobby which mentioned the importance of a lone courageous voice; Michael Jay, Wayne Williams, and Linda Sutton, all activists with Progressive Democrats of America, reminded Waxman that he took an oath of office to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution; Ricco Ross, a delegate to the California Democratic Party, said the impeachment of Bush and Cheney would redeem the United States in the eyes of the world. At one point one participant said, "Congressman Waxman, we are asking you to defend us."
At the outset of the meeting, Waxman expressed a hesitancy to come out publicly for impeachment, explaining that his role as a vigorous investigator would be compromised by taking a stand that could be perceived as partisan or partial. Winograd responded with, "At some point you, the investigator, have enough evidence to hold these criminals accountable. What is the point of continuous investigations unless an indictment or impeachment process is begun?" Showing some hesitancy, Waxman insisted that a successful impeachment trial would necessitate strong and convincing evidence to persuade both Democrats and Republicans that high crimes had been committed. In the next breath, Waxman recited a litany of Bush and Cheney's crimes, everything from the Iraq war to the outing of a CIA agent to illegal wiretapping. "You sound like you are delivering the opening argument for an impeachment trial," said Winograd. With good humor, Waxman nodded and smiled.
Towards the end of the meeting, Dorothy Reik, President of Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains, urged Waxman to use the "inherent contempt" power of Congress to bring criminal charges against Bush and Cheney and their aides, hold a hearing in Congress on those charges, and then hand down the punishment, prison time. Reik expressed frustration with the refusal of Bush administration officials to testify before congressional committees, despite the fact that subpoenas had been issued.
"Your witnesses aren't showing up -- They're ignoring your subpoenas," said Reik, "so it is time for you, Congressman Waxman, to recognize that there is a precedent for members of congress to initiate criminal proceedings."
Waxman said he was unaware of the "inherent contempt" power. In a follow-up letter after the meeting, Winograd emailed him information on the "inherent contempt" precedent.
While only six months ago, Congressman Waxman ruled out impeachment, this time he indicated he would go forward with an open mind, all the while praising participants for their passion and urging them to lobby the members of the House Judiciary Committee.