We speak to Ohio Congress member and former Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich about his impeachment effort against President Bush. On Wednesday, Congress voted to send Kucinich’s bill to the House Judiciary Committee, where it’s unlikely to be considered before Bush leaves office. Kucinich spent four hours on the House floor Monday reading out thirty-five articles of impeachment against the President. [includes rush transcript]
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: We move right now to our next segment, to the Ohio Congress member. Juan?
JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes. Well, Ohio Congress member and former Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich is vowing to continue his impeachment efforts against President Bush despite attempts to bury it in committee. On Wednesday, Congress voted 251-166 to send Kucinich’s bill to the House Judiciary Committee, where it’s unlikely to be considered before Bush leaves office. A similar resolution against Vice President Dick Cheney that was introduced last year was also sent to the House Judiciary Committee, where it still remains. Kucinich spent four hours on the House floor Monday reading out thirty-five articles of impeachment against the President.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: President George W. Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as president and subversive of constitutional government to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President George W. Bush, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined now from Washington, D.C. by the Ohio Congress member, Dennis Kucinich. Welcome to Democracy Now!
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Good morning.
AMY GOODMAN: Why have you chosen to do this now?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: We have 4,000 of our brave men and women who have died in Iraq. Over a million innocent Iraqis have been killed. We’ve had torture policies, rendition, illegal detention, wiretapping, spying, subversion of global climate change science. I mean, I went on and on and on with these articles the other night, but what it adds up to is that there has to be accountability. And for the leadership of the Democratic Party to say that impeachment is off the table is to essentially put on hold the United States code, international law and the Constitution of the United States. There is no rational, logical reason why the Judiciary Committee should not hear — have hearings on these articles.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Congressman, some of your colleagues in Congress have said that they would be willing to consider impeachment should President Bush move to begin a war with Iran without consulting Congress. Senator Joe Biden has said so, and the House Judiciary Chair John Conyers has said so. Do you think that this is in essence a reaction to your continued pressure over the issue of impeachment?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, you know, this isn’t golf. You don’t get a do-over. We can’t let this president wage war and kill more people in violation of international law, in violation of the Geneva Convention. His conduct has been totally in alignment with violating the Nuremberg Principles. We need to hold him to account. And if we do that, there won’t be an attack on Iran. We must not wait for more carnage and for more jeopardy to the peace of the world.
We have enough information right now to offer incontrovertible proof that this president lied to take us into a war, worked with others to manufacture a false case for war, falsely stated to the American people that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and told the Congress that there was an imminent threat, thereby subverting Congress’s power under Article I, Section 8, with respect to a declaration of war. So what are we waiting for?
AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Kucinich, the head of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean, said voters did not hand Democrats control of Congress two years ago in order to impeach President Bush.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Is that what he said? Well, you know what? Howard Dean ought to check with the people where he lives with in Vermont, because the people in Vermont understand this. And people all over this country understand it.
This isn’t a political question, by the way. The appropriate response for Howard Dean would be that this is a matter that’s beyond politics. This is a matter that relates to a democratic system of government and whether or not our Constitution is just a piece of paper. So this has to go beyond politics. It’s not for the Democratic Party to decide to overlook violations of US law and international law. We cannot let our political system trump the requirements of the law.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s go to Nancy Pelosi. This is the House Speaker in late 2006, shortly after the Democrats took over Congress.
REP. NANCY PELOSI: No, impeachment is off the table.
LESLEY STAHL: Off the table. And that’s a pledge?
REP. NANCY PELOSI: Well, it’s a pledge in the — yes, in that it’s a pledge — of course it is. And it is a waste of time.
Democrats are not about getting even. Democrats are about helping the American people get ahead. And that’s what our agenda is about. So while some people are excited about prospects that they have, in terms of their priorities, they are not our priorities. I have said, and I say again, that impeachment is off the table.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Nancy Pelosi. Well, last December, I asked House Judiciary Chair John Conyers about impeachment.
REP. JOHN CONYERS: Unless we’re going to impeach the Vice President and the President within this space of time, I think we could be very seriously compromising the greatest important — most important thing, in addition to documenting any misdeeds that may have happened, whether we continue to have Bush enablers continue to shatter and tear the Constitution to shreds. And so, all of this, academically, is great. I’ve got a number of books from my friends about which articles would be best and which ones we should go after more. But it seems to me that the time element and also the feasibility of whether or not there is any possible chance of success — there is a very stark reality that with the corporatization of the media, we could end up with turning people who should be documented in history as making many profound errors and violating the Constitution from villains into victims.
AMY GOODMAN: That is the House Judiciary Chair John Conyers. Dennis Kucinich, your response?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: There is arguable evidence that President Bush has committed war crimes. We have a moral obligation to have hearings in Judiciary to make a determination whether or not this is so. This goes beyond politics. I have a great respect for John Conyers, I have a great respect for Nancy Pelosi, but this goes beyond politics. This is not — you know, our whole government rests on moral principles, not just on political principles.
And so, we need to evaluate what Congress’s rightful role is here. You know, one of the founders of our nation made it very clear that Congress had a role that was not simply to pass laws, but to ask questions of the executive. This is what helped to create a powerful three-branches-of-government concept that was imbued in the Constitution, co-equality, so that we wouldn’t have a monarch. George Bush has acted in a way that has separated him from the rule of law. Congress must hold him accountable. And to say, “Well, we have more important things to do” — what could be more important than finding out whether or not the President of the United States has committed war crimes, whether or not he’s violated United States law and repeatedly violated the Constitution?
You know, you look at the price of gasoline today. Does anyone have any idea that the United States invaded Iraq for oil, that there were meetings with the oil companies laying out maps of oil fields in Iraq, that Congress has not been able to get full documentation from the Vice President as to what was said in those meetings? What about the pressures that are being put on the Iraq government right now to try to get it to turn over its sovereignty so that the United States can facilitate the control of Iraq oil for the international corporations?
We have to stand up for this country and for its people, and that’s what I’m doing. And I am going to be challenging my colleagues to look at the evidence. And if they look at the evidence, I think that they’ll want to do what’s right.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Congressman, you vow to continue reintroducing your proposal now if it’s — every thirty days unless action is taken. Your response to those who say that there’s no — there isn’t enough time in the calendar, given everything else that is going to be occurring, the presidential election, over the next few months, to even be able to deal with this issue?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: George Bush has enough time to bomb Iran on another pretext. He has enough time to continue policies of torture. He has enough time to continue policies of eavesdropping and wiretapping. He has enough time to continue to ignore critical science with respect to global climate change. He has enough time to help facilitate more violations of election law for the 2008 election.
We don’t have enough time. We can’t spend any more time temporizing, while the Constitution, the United States laws, international laws, are being shredded.
AMY GOODMAN: Dennis Kucinich, you said President Bush is guilty perhaps of war crimes, and that’s what you want to get to the bottom of. What war crimes?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, it’s waging illegal war, attacking a civilian population, knocking out the access to electricity and water. The Geneva Conventions and protocols to the Geneva Conventions make it very clear that there are questions that need to be answered by the Judiciary Committee. That’s Article VIII of the impeachment resolution, points out that the first protocol to the Geneva Convention says that someone who is in civilian command is within the reach of war crimes prosecution if he or she had a direct responsibility for ordering troops — or ordering an attack on another nation. If you read the Nuremberg Principles, you know, our president has brought himself within the reach of prosecution for war crimes.
And the Congress of the United States should take this responsibility to — not just to look into it, but to take action, because if we don’t take action, what would it say to American history if later on, after this president left office, he was brought up by either an international tribunal or by the laws of another country? It’s not as though he’s going to be able to escape justice.
AMY GOODMAN: And the argument that John Conyers made, if you’re not impeaching Cheney at the same time, that he could be president?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, who says that Dick Cheney should be beyond the reach of impeachment? I mean, I’ve already introduced that resolution. You know, we know that there was a rapid change of the guard that occurred during the time that Spiro Agnew left office in disgrace, that President Richard Nixon resigned before articles were presented to the House and the door was open for Gerald Ford to become president.
The personality shouldn’t matter here. What should matter is whether or not crimes have been committed. And to turn a blind eye to that, to say, “Well, you know, it’s off the table. We’ve got other things to do,” is to unwittingly be an accomplice in this. We have to realize our responsibility here to protect this country from corruption. And it’s being — the Constitution and the nation, the national governance, is being corrupted by Congress’s unwillingness to look into this. Why are — what are we afraid of, that we’re afraid to look into violations of law by this president?
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Congressman Kucinich, have you announced support for Barack Obama? Will you campaign for him?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: I haven’t gotten involved in his campaign beyond Iowa, where I told my supporters on a second ballot that they should consider supporting him. You know, I hope to talk to Senator Obama. There’s things that my constituency is very concerned about, and — such as trade, Social Security privatization, a true national healthcare plan, ending the war in Iraq, that I would like to hear personally from him what he has to say, because —-
AMY GOODMAN: Before you endorse him?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Pardon?
AMY GOODMAN: Before you endorse?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Absolutely. I mean, this -— you know, this election is an election that is about hope, certainly, but it’s about something else, too. It’s about shifting away from policies that have destroyed our economy. And I am looking forward to having a conversation with my good friend Barack Obama about what he intends to do about matters relating to NAFTA, about Social Security privatization, about whether or not he’s going to be leaving troops in Iraq. I mean, these are all things that I want to know about, you know, before I give a personal endorsement.
I’ve already started to organize for a big Democratic turnout in northern Ohio. So there’s just no question, I’m out there already doing what needs to be done to make sure that Democrats do well in 2008. But at the same time, I have an obligation to ask questions, to ask questions of Senator Obama, and also to try to get our Judiciary Committee to proceed in its constitutionally mandated role.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you very much for joining us. Ohio Congressmember Dennis Kucinich has introduced thirty-five articles of impeachment against President Bush.