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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Defends Her Opposition to Impeachment: “If Somebody Had a Crime that the President Had Committed, That Would Be a Different Story.”

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On Monday, Rep. Pelosi appeared on ABC’s The View and suggested impeachment is off the table because there is no evidence President Bush has committed any criminal acts. We ask Rep. Dennis Kucinich for a response. Kucinich recently introduced a single article of impeachment against President Bush. The article accuses Bush of deceiving Congress to authorize the invasion of Iraq. [includes rush transcript]

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZALEZ: We’re talking about the use of public subsidies for sports stadiums. We’re joined from Washington, D.C. by Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich. And here in New York, we have Bettina Damiani, the project director of Good Jobs New York, and Neil deMause, author of Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit.

But, Congressman Kucinich, you’ve been leading the fight for impeachment, and I know you have to go very soon, so I wanted to ask you about an interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that aired on The View earlier this week. She was asked about impeachment.

    JOY BEHAR: You’ve ruled against impeaching George Bush and Dick Cheney, and now Kucinich is trying to pass that. Why do you insist on not impeaching these people, so that the world and America can really see the crimes that they’ve committed?

    REP. NANCY PELOSI: Well, I think that it — I think it was important, when I became Speaker — and it’s, by the way, a very important position — President, Vice President, Speaker of the House — I saw it as my responsibility to try to bring a much divided country together to the extent that we could. I thought that impeachment would be divisive for the country.

    In terms of what we wanted — set out to do, we wanted to raise the minimum wage, give the biggest increase in veterans benefits to veterans in the seventy-seven-year history, then pass research for stem cell research, all of that. This week, we’re going to pass equal pay for equal work. It has been a long time in coming — pay equity. We’re going to pass legislations for product safety, for toys that children put in their — there’s an agenda that you have to get done. You have to try to do it in a bipartisan way. The President has to sign it.

    If somebody had a crime that the President had committed, that would be a different story.

    JOY BEHAR: Can they still do it after he’s out?

    BARBARA WALTERS: When we — when I interviewed you last year, you had just begun, and you were going to clean up the mess, remember?

    REP. NANCY PELOSI: And we did.

    BARBARA WALTERS: You look around this country, 75 percent of the country — forget George Bush — thinks that Congress is doing a lousy job.

    ELISABETH HASSELBECK: I think it’s 91 percent now.

    REP. NANCY PELOSI: Well, I don’t disagree with that, because largely it’s predicated on ending the war in Iraq. That’s the main question, and we were not successful. In our House of Representatives, I’m very proud of our members, because they voted overwhelmingly over and over again to bring the war to an end, bring the troops home safely and soon, sent it to the Senate, and it hits a dead end.

    But in terms of that particular standard, I would say I disapprove, as well. But we do — we passed some of the things I just mentioned, the energy bill. We worked in a bipartisan way, Innovation Agenda. We have to create jobs, expand healthcare, protect the American people and educate our children. And you can’t do that if you’re trying to impeach the President at the same time, unless you have the goods that this president committed crimes.

JUAN GONZALEZ: That was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Congressman Kucinich, your response to her take on the situation with impeachment?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, now that I’ve heard that the Speaker is looking for evidence that crimes may have been committed, I certainly want to direct her attention to the thirty-five articles of impeachment that I presented, which assert quite directly that crimes have been committed, including taking this nation into a war, an illegal war, based on lies; including the deaths of over a million innocent Iraqis, which constitute a war crime; including wiretapping, rendition, torture, illegal detention. There are many examples of laws that have been broken.

And the reason why the Judiciary Committee should hold a hearing on the impeachment itself is because there needs to be a public airing of this. So, I have a great deal of respect for Speaker Pelosi, and I think that since she made that statement on The View, there’s an opportunity now for us to come forward and to lay all the facts out so that she can reconsider her decision not to permit the Judiciary Committee to proceed with a full impeachment hearing.

I just want to state this, that I appreciate that she consented to a hearing on Friday. It was a six-hour hearing, over a dozen witnesses. Twenty-four members of Congress attended. It’s being taken seriously.

I think the idea that nothing can be done right now because we’re on the eve of an election raises questions about our constitutional responsibility to be a check and balance to administration abuse of power. If in fact we’re in a war that’s based on lies, and we have thousands of troops whose lives are on the line every day, we owe it to them and we owe it to the American people to set straight the public record. And then, whether or not it results in the President being removed from office before the end of his term is another matter.

I want to further say that with the possibility of a war in Iran in the offing, a war against Iran, a war that would be a result of a pre-emptive attack, much like the one that the United States launched against Iraq, it becomes very important that we hold this administration to the highest standard of having to verify the statements they make to take us into one war and to try to take us into another.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, thank you, once again, for joining us.

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