Conyers: Impeachment Not Off the Table

by: Matt Stoller

Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 18:11

( - promoted by Matt Stoller)

I figured you'd enjoy this diary in the wake of Bush's horrible State of the Union address.  Please digg this diary here.

Today at the Progressive Media Summit I managed to catch a conversation between Rob Kall of OpedEdNews and House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers on the potential impeachment of both Bush and Cheney.  The video starts in the middle of a sentence, but other than that, it's pretty clear cut.  It's an interesting dialogue in which Conyers goes back and forth on his own authority and ability to bring impeachment charges, his political arguments against it, and finally, his firm statement that Bush could do plenty to justify impeachment and that the option is not 'off the table'.  You get to see a fascinating and very human interaction between a highly intelligent activist and a sitting Congressman with immense power who is vaguely irritated at having to answer questions, but also intensely interested in answering them.

The transcript is as follows:

Matt Stoller :: Conyers: Impeachment Not Off the Table
John Conyers: Two impeachments rather than one.  They've either got to be simultaneous or serie atum.

Rob Kall: Serie atum would be the way to do it.  First Cheney, then Bush.  History teaches us, let's start with Gonzales.  We went to Gonzales, and he's gone.  They went to Agnew, he left.  Then they went to Nixon, and they started doing hearings on him.  It never went to a vote in the Senate.  And I don't think it ever would.  All we need to do is get the hearings opened up where they can't say 'sorry, executive privilege, then you've got the tools, which is what Impeachment is, it's a tool.

John Conyers: You know who's been in more impeachment hearings than anybody in the House or Senate?

Rob Kall: You?

John Conyers: Right.

Rob Kall: And you wrote a book on impeaching Bush, too.

John Conyers: A couple, yes.  Well there must be some compelling reason that I'm not doing it right now.

Rob Kall: Pelosi, Pelosi keeps coming to mind.

John Conyers: How could she stop, well, she could stop me because actually it goes through a special committee on the House, but, Pelosi can't stop me from anything, really.

Rob Kall: Really?

John Conyers: Yeah.

Rob Kall: So it's you stopping you, nobody else?

John Conyers: Well I don't know whose ever stopped me before, I don't know why Pelosi's going to stop me now.

Rob Kall: You know people say it's too late, and it's not too late for Bush to start another war, appoint another Supreme Court justice if something happened, and here we are stuck with him during the worst economic crisis...

John Conyers: Let me just say this to you because there may be some other people that want to talk to me.  Let me tell you this.  If we started an impeachment hearing that didn't succeed, guess what would happen.  They would say that he's being demonized, that Conyers always, they campaigned against the Democrats taking over last year, wait a minute, they campaigned against the Democrats saying two things, Rangel will raise taxes if the Democrats ran and Conyers would impeach Bush.  Now to come in on January 28th after having been impressed by your logic, Rob, and saying we're going after both these guys at once and if it doesn't, and I really smile at this one, and if it doesn't work at least you did it and taught them a lesson.  Well they would take that and that would bleed right into the election of 2008 sure as we're standing here.

Rob Kall: You've got in your committee stuck there held back Dennis Kucinich's bill.

John Conyers: So what?

Rob Kall: I asked Dennis about it and you know what he said, I asked him about people not acting because they're afraid of the reaction of the Republicans, and his reply was 'that's no way to run a democracy'.

John Conyers: Well I see Dennis Kucinich way more than you and I know a lot about what he's doing and why he's doing it.  I know about my dear friend Bob Wexler from Florida and that's their right and their authority, but I'm the chairman.

Rob Kall: Is there anything that could happen that would change your mind?

John Conyers: Sure.  There are plenty of things that could happen.  And it's not off the table.

Rob Kall: It's not?  That's good to hear.

John Conyers: Well that's why we're talking.

Rob Kall: Thank you.

I found it interesting that Conyers semi-rejects impeachment because that's what the Republicans ran on in 2006.  The Republicans lost in 2006.  And in a democracy, that means the voters rejected the arguments of the GOP, including the arguments about Rangel raising taxes and Conyers beginning impeachment proceedings against Bush.

Other than that, the significant news is that Conyers believes he can begin impeachment proceedings against Bush if he feels it is warranted, and may do so if Bush transgresses a line that Conyers feels is inappropriate.

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So what would warrant impeachment? ... (4.00 / 3)
that is the $60,000 question

Well... (4.00 / 1)
....If Boosh was caught raping an 8 year old boy in the Oval Office...yeah, that would probably do the job.

Look, Conyers told us why it's not happening. He doesn't understand the election dynamic of 2006 nor what's coming in 2008.

As far as he's concerned 2006 was great, made him a chairman, but no need to 'rock the boat'. Emmanuel told him that Democrats have no choice but to vote Dem so his chairmanship is safe. What does he give a fuck about Boosh.

Not a damn thing.

The 'not off the table...' is just his way of sending a polite word to Herr Decider that he'd best be well behaved lame-duck and play by the 'dont' rock the boat' rules.

Next year...Dem majority...Dem President...

Nooooooooooo Problem....

For fat-assed pols like Conyer. The rest of us.....

He don't give a shit and he won't until we give him reason to do.

Any takers on that?

The entire government is rotten to the core in the sense that they are unable, indeed uninterested, in solving any of the massive problems the country faces.

They've got their's and just don't see any real problem with the way tthings are.

Looks like we're going to need to have one of those big, bad events  like the Civil War or the Great Depression before we can 'Take Out the Trash' like Conyers.

By the way this sort of clip is pure gold. The more the citizenry sees of their rulers up close and personal the better they will understand them. Which can be nothing but good for our nation; even if you don't subscribe to my interpretation.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
Register Green, Vote Dem if you need to. (4.00 / 1)
Until there is a threat to the Democratic Party's hegemony of the left they will continue to act like Conyers does here.  The only answer is to register in the Green Party so that numbers will be against the Dems. You can vote for the Democratic candidate in Nov. if you want to but if you at least register in the Green Party it will let the Dems see that they can't take you for granted. Until then, each individual voter who continues in the Democratic Party is supporting the creepy logic of Conyers who says he won't put impeachment on the table because other Democrats might not vote for it. I can guarantee that if they don't ever get to see the evidence presented to the investigationcommittee than certainly they won't vote for it. 

What proscutor in his right mind would say I'm not going to present my evidence to the grand jury to get an indictment because at a trial the trial jury might not vote for conviction?

[ Parent ]
Apparently (4.00 / 1)
flagrantly destroying the US Constitution, running up record deficits, irresponsible bureaucratic management and illegal and reckless warmongering aren't "inappropriate". I'm glad you put this up, cause I've always been irked that Congress seems so timid of fighting a guy who America hates, even though they got elected on doing just that.

[ Parent ]
Thanks for this video, but I remain frustrated. (4.00 / 1)
I'm with the first commenter who said, "So what would warrant impeachment?" 

We're Being Toyed With (4.00 / 1)
Shorter John Conyers:  Yes, it's the right thing to do. What do you think, I'm an idiot?

But we don't do the right thing anymore.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

Com'on now (4.00 / 1)
You all know that impeachment is a tool of last resort for grave threats to our national security.  Like if Bush was to get a blow job in the oval office. 

We may only have two viable parties but there are two different Democratic Parties: the Party of the People and the Party of the Power. The Party of the People is interested in ending injustice.  The Party of the Power is interested in using injustice as a campaign tool.  If you take action you become responsible and that is something that they can use against you in a campaign.  The less you do, the less of a record you have, the less they can have against you.

Snarky as this is, it is largely true. No doubt people like Conyers do a great deal…within some narrow boundaries.  People like Kucinich who are inclined to stray beyond those acceptable limits of change get marginalized by their own party. 

"Pelosi can't stop me from doing anything....." (4.00 / 2)
I can see Conyers chief of staff spitting out coffee as he watches this....  If Bush were ever impeached, would you like to see this footage of political calculation on national TV?  If I were Conyers, I have to say I would be more careful about what I say where there may be a camera.  Was the camera in your cell phone?

Conyers' argument is that the Republican gambit in 06, forecasting wild tax-raising and impeachment by black Congressmen, failed because the voters didn't buy it.  He's saying that the GOP would be back with we-told-you-so and more threats about those darn black Congressmen in 08 if he did impeach.  Wanna see the ads now about Rangel calling for the draft?  Unfortunately that reasoning also applies to measures for fixing the country's fiscal mess....

I don't think Bush will be impeached.  More likely he gets indicted for conspiracy by Fitzgerald January 21, 2009.

When I am feeling wildly optimistic, I assume that Dems are using the threat of impeachment to prevent Bush from attacking Iran.  If he does attack, all bets are off. 

Conyers' argument (4.00 / 1)
I completely disagree that the reason the "forecasting wild tax-raising and impeachment by black Congressmen, failed" was "because the voters didn't buy it" as in "They didn't believe they would impeach." I think it failed because none of the people who voted Dem in 2006 would shed a single tear if Bush were impeached. Bush's sustained unpopularity is unprecedented. Exit polls in 2006 showed that voters wanted their Reps and Senators to hold Bush accountable. Jesus, these Congressional Dems are so easily psyched out. The Clinton impeachment caused a backlash the following election because Clinton was a popular President and most people thought lying about a blow-job was not a good reason to dump a president who was doing a good job. Yet somehow Pelosi and friends interpreted the situation to mean that if an impeachment doesn't result in conviction in the Senate, there will be a backlash. Does it not make any difference that Bush and Cheney are spectacularly unpopular while Clinton was generally popular? Does it not make any difference that Clinton lied about consensual sex while Bush and Cheney have trashed the Constitution and repeatedly violated laws just to prove they could get away with it or that they repeatedly lied to Congress to get us into an unnecessary and disastrous war? Dems must believe that Americans are incapable of making such distinctions.

It is perfectly logical to expect that once the historically unpopular Bush and Cheney's many very serious crimes are exposed in an impeachment trial, the backlash will be against any Republicans who vote against impeachment and conviction should they fail.

[ Parent ]
You nailed it. (4.00 / 1)
Because it is so obvious to anyone with the least common sense that an investigation that puts on the record Cheney and Bush's lies and crimes will succeed at changing the positions of the fence sitters today, Conyers claim that he won't go forward because it "might" lose is so bogus that it is pathetic.  Yet he continues to repeat it like a mantra defending against the rest of us who see what a stooge he is being. 

[ Parent ]
how dare he ! (4.00 / 1)
I watched and listened to the film clip, I am a seasoned anti war activist, so I saw red. How dare he stand where Jefferson, and Lincoln stood and not strive to be as great and they were.  He swore an oath to uphold the constitution not the democratic party and I called him and told him so.
I'm so mad I think I'll call him again. 

menat to say I am NOT a seasoned anti war activist.. (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Impeachment (0.00 / 0)
Will never happen to this president.

As much as I get titillated by the notion, it is too late.

Unbelievable that what happened to Clinton under such mundane circumstances can be impossible under such dire circumstances.

Way to go Rob (4.00 / 2)
I found out about this post at  It was refreshing to see real journalism at work and to witness a politician squirm under intense, steady questioning unable to escape comment on an important issue with the usual duck and dodge.  Thanks Rob and thanks OpenLeft for being there to capture the moment. 

Perfect example of lying politician at work. (0.00 / 0)
How low the mighty have fallen to see the once great John Conyers reduced to being just another lying politician. His saying that impeachment is "not off the table" equals Bush's lie about WMD going into Iraq.

Conyers says that no one is making him do what he is doing and he wants us to believe this, why?  He can't have it both ways. He says that he won't put impeachment on the table, why? If you boil down the dancing that he did he just says he won't put it on the table because he can't be 100% sure it would succeed. Now is that really a believable position? I don't think so. He knows as well as Rob Kall that impeachment has to get started before any real assessment of its chances of suceeding can be made.

For Conyers to try to say that he can't open hearings on an investigation BECAUSE he doesn't know if the investigation will turn up impeachable offences has got to be the hight of cynicism. He really agrees with Hitler, Goering, Goebbles and George W. Bush that the masses are stupid and will accept any justification as long as it is given with a straight face. 

To be fair (0.00 / 0)
Impeachment is not "off the table" - it has been firmly nailed and glued to the table top so that absolutely no one can pick it up and run with it.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Conyers Knows That Impeachment Is Just An Indictment At Most.... (0.00 / 0)
....and that the real trial would be in the Senate.

All we want is to get the process started.  Have some hearings, make the case.

Most Americans know that Bush/Cheney are failures and that's why they're so unpopular. 

What most American DON'T know are the dirty corrupt details of precisely why and how Bush/Cheney have failed us......when there are hours of hearings on TV that simply brings the truth to light there will be a groundswell of public opinion that will remove any fears that Conyers may have of negative political consequences for Democrats.

Further, what kind of crap is it anyway that he's afraid to start impeachment just because it might be politically unpopular?!?

Bush/Cheney are demonstrably guilty of LYING US INTO A WAR that has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, killed and wounded thousands of American military, cost us a trillion bucks (and counting), screwed up our economy since we're borrowing all the money to pay for the war, actually STRENGTHENED Al Qaida, and made the USA a virtual pariah in the civilized world. 

If those aren't grounds for impeachment, there can never be one.  And there must be at least half a  dozen other items at least that would be sufficient grounds unto them selves.

Ironically for Conyers (and the rest of us), a full bore quest for truth and JUSTICE would actually be the best thing
for American democracy.  What Bush/Cheny have done is set precedents that are clear and present and ONGOING dangers to our constitutional freedoms...and it seems they're gonna get away with it without even a slap on the wrist.

Shame on you Congressman Conyers!

John Conyers is either not very bright or totally corrupted. (0.00 / 0)
So John Conyers message here is what exactly?

a) That the punditry of "Fox News" trumps the Law, and the U.S. Constitution?,
b) That gathering damning evidence on Dick Cheney would make him suddenly popular?
c) That all the people who voted for a change in direction in 2006, would now suddenly perceive holding Dick Cheney accountable the "wrong thing to do"?

John Conyers has no logic here.

He is just declaring, against all historical precendent here, that before any evidence or testimony is even  presented to anyone, that an inquiry would fail -- even though that holding a serious inquiry is exactly what succeeded in driving both Alberto Gonzalez and Karl Rove out of Office.

John Conyers is either a fool, or he has been corrupted.
I suggest that it is the latter.

How can a man who clearly must understand that there was zero momentum behind Impeaching Richard Nixon prior to  the Watergate inquiry, now fabricate the phony excuse that holding an inquiry would necessarily be ineffectual?

The truth is that John Conyers has decided to never hold Richard Bruce Cheney or George Walker Bush accountable regardless of what laws they break or mass bloodshed, ruin, and destruction they cause.

For John Conyers, justice is no longer part of his agenda.
The successful blueprint of the 1970s Democrats means nothing to him.
The prospect of War and untold death in Iran means nothing to him.

He no longer cares about the truth and he is left just a hollow, small-minded, timid man forced to invent out of whole cloth excuses for doing nothing as our Republic is brought to its knees and Constitutional government is systematically oblierated.

John Conyers you are a disgrace.


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