Statement by Rep. Zoe LofgrenEdit
I share the view that the President’s polices are making our country less safe, less prosperous, less free and less fair. However, pursuing the impeachment of a federal official demands meeting the requirements of the Constitution. While politically I think that President Bush and Vice-President Cheney may be the worst in our nation’s history, it is not yet clear that the President’s or Vice-President’s behavior meets the Constitutional standard for removal from office.
I have been involved in two impeachments while working in Washington D.C. The first was as a staff member to my predecessor Don Edwards during the Nixon impeachment and the second was as a member on the House Judiciary Committee during the Clinton impeachment. An impeachment inquiry must be firmly rooted in the Constitution, which requires removal from office for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” I am not hesitant to pursue the remedy of impeachment if a President’s or Vice-President’s conduct reaches this high standard, but I am not willing to proceed without clear and convincing evidence that the standard has been met.
The Honorable John Conyers, jr.
Chair, Committee on the Judiciary
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington DC 20515
Dear Chairman Conyers [John]
As you know, I was a member of former Congressman Don Edwards' [sic] staff during the impeachment of Richard Nixon. as you were a member of the House Judiciary Committee at that time, I am confident that you share the pride I felt in the processes, deliberations and fairness that characterized that sad chapter in the nation's history. The contrast with the impeachment proceedings in 1999 could not have been more stark.
During the Nixon impeachment proceedings, the House Judiciary Committee prepared a publication that I utilized extensively during the 1999 proceedings. The publication explored the history of impeachment, the Constitutional standards to be met in the case of the impeachment of a federal executive and how those standards differed from those that would guide Congress in the case of impeachment of a federal judge.
I am aware that three of our colleagues have written to ask that hearings be held on the resolution of impeachment of Vice President Cheney that was referred to the House Judiciary Committee. I am further advised that there is some possibility that the Committee may be faced with the question of whether a federal judge should be impeached.
With this letter, I would like to ask two things. First, I hope that the House Judiciary Committee can re-issue the 1974 Committee report about impeachment. That would allow this important document to become more accessible to Members of Congress as well as the public. Second, I ask that the House Judiciary Committee hold hearings on the substance of this 1974 report. Before any inquiry should be made relative to impeachment, every member of the House Judiciary Committee should have a common understanding of the role of impeachment in the history of the United States and the impeachment standards set forth in the Constitution, whether they be of federal executives or judges. I have a copy of the 1974 report should the Committee need one.
Thank you for your consideration of my requests and I look forward to hearing from you.
Member of Congress