EXCLUSIVE: McKinney Discusses Her Bush Impeachment Bill (UPDATE 1)
(APN) ATLANTA — “Nothing is off the table unless the American people allow it to be so,” US Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) said in an exclusive interview with Atlanta Progressive News (APN) about her Articles of Impeachment against President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
The bill, H Res. 1106, which is now available at thomas.loc.gov, calls for the impeachment of President Bush for three main reasons: misleading the public over the need to invade Iraq, illegally spying on Americans, and failing to hold Cheney and Rice accountable.
The resolution has no cosponsors and was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary; however, it was introduced during the final hours of the Congressional Session, so no ongoing opportunity for official cosponsorship is presently available to other Members.
“I decided to introduce Articles of Impeachment because the American people have been subjected to betrayal at the highest levels for the lowest reasons. Our Constitution and our Democracy have been betrayed. It is imperative those in high places know they must respect our laws and our values,” the Congresswoman told APN.
APN recently reported Congresswoman McKinney was actually ready to introduce impeachment of President Bush in 2001. At the time, her mother, Leola, begged her not to drop the Articles in the US House.
Leola McKinney continued to advise her daughter against the action, a source tells APN. However, the Congresswoman decided the principles of our Constitution were too much at stake.
Still, Leola McKinney “is quite aware that a personal price is paid by those who stand up. Rosa Parks sat down and everyone lauds that move today, but only Rosa and her immediate family had to deal with the retribution that came from her heroic act of sitting down. The way her act was viewed at the time is vastly different than the way it is viewed today. My mother is aware of the personal price I pay for standing up. American Blackout showed a glimpse of it,” Congresswoman McKinney said.
Since 2001, “The ship of state has veered even more off course,” McKinney said.
Was McKinney’s recent decision to drop the Articles a turning point for her?
“This is not a turning point for me,” McKinney said. “I have not changed. Perhaps the people now see what I saw a long time ago about the George W. Bush Administration. Sadly, the Bush Administration has exceeded my apprehension of its deception, incompetence, and malevolence. It has damaged our Democracy and ignored our Constitution.”
A couple APN readers have asked why McKinney was not allowed to read her remarks on the House floor, especially given the importance of the bill.
“The schedule was extremely full and no one minutes or special orders were allowed. That is not unusual,” McKinney said.
US Rep McKinney had also joined 38 other Members of Congress in cosponsoring US Rep. John Conyers’s (D-MI) H Res 635, which would have created a Select Committee to review the Bush Administration’s apparent misleading the public, etc., and would have been able to make recommendations on possible impeachment.
Conyers’s office now tells Atlanta Progressive News that his bill is not expected to be reintroduced in the next Congressional session, even though Mr. Conyers will Chair the US House Judiciary Committee and the Democrats have won the Congressional majority.
They say, I paraphrase, “Well we have subpoena power so H Res 635 is no longer needed.”
However, Congresswoman McKinney doesn’t see it that way.
Of course, on the face of it, subpoena power, which may or may not be used depending on whether Democrats wimp out, is not the same as a consolidated investigation which could lead to impeachment recommendations.
Moreover, “Congress has a responsibility to oversee the Executive Branch and to be careful stewards of the public’s money. Billions of dollars have been ‘lost’ or are missing; contractors have overcharged the taxpayers; civil liberties have been eroded; laws have been broken; the public has been misled; our country is at war,” she says.
The Congresswoman will continue to focus on important issues, even though she lost her so-called Primary Election against Hank Johnson. [Georgia election results are essentially meaningless, however, so there’s actually no way to tell whether voter intent is being accurately recorded by E-voting machines.]
NATIONAL MOVEMENT GATHERS TO IMPEACH
“It was well done,” national impeachment activist David Swanson said of McKinney’s bill.
“There’s endless Articles of Impeachment that are justified. I think it’s wonderful she did it. She should’ve done it years ago. She did it at a moment it was gonna die and not be introduced. She did it and she put impeachment on the table and she raised the bar and set an example that shames every other Member of Congress,” Swanson said.
“McKinney put a little dose of honesty into Congress. It doesn’t even fit, everyone’s like, how weird,” Swanson said.
Swanson returned today from speaking at two of 75 impeachment events held across the country on the weekend of Sunday, December 10, 2006.
“In both of these I went in having been led to expect pseudo-wise hesitations. The crowd wanted none of it. The crowd wanted to know what we could do now to impeach the President,” Swanson tells Atlanta Progressive News.
“The main purpose was to get people signed up on committees in their Congressional District,” Swanson said. A website for the committees is: www.democrats.com/cdic
“We have dozen of Congressional Districts now where we have leaders, people who are signed up,” Swanson says.
“There’s this idea impeachment will be seen as radical and drastic and won’t win over Independents and moderates. Or we should be focused on the war and positive legislation. There’s endless ways to defeat ourselves. It never ends. Still the number one thing is the Cheney boogeyman,” Swanson said.
The Cheney boogeyman, as Swanson calls it, may not be so scary, he says.
“If we have serious investigations in the House and impeach Bush we’re very likely to incriminate Cheney and impeach [him and Rice] too. When you get to the Senate for removal from office, you can’t try two people at the same moment. If we get to that point, however, the political spectrum will have shifted so far that Bush, Cheney, and the Republicans are gonna be in trouble. You’re gonna have at least 16 Republicans in the Senate who say get out of town because so much dirt is coming out,” Swanson says.
“If we had a President Cheney, his [approval] numbers are in the teens. If we had good Democratic strategists, we would be able to ensure a Democratic victory in 2008 because of a President Cheney,” Swanson says. “The guy is running things anyway. What is it that’s gonna get worse?”
“We’ll get a bunch of Republicans who’ll cross over and some Democrats who won’t do it. There are some Democrats who are worthless,” Swanson says.
“I think it’s disgraceful to put electoral politics ahead of impeachment. But if you’re going to do that, you need to get it right. The party who pursues impeachment benefits. The one case that is the exception is Clinton. Nonetheless Republicans didn’t lose many seats,” when they led the impeachment of Clinton, Swanson says.
Many activists feel very betrayed that US Rep. Conyers publicly agrees with incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that impeachment is “off the table.”
To decide a constitutional remedy is off the table when the facts are not all yet known is an abdication of Congressional responsibility, Truthout Editors recently wrote.
Conyers’s Office has not yet answered our simple question, “Does off the table mean NEVER?” when it was posed by APN.
“I wouldn’t read too much into it,” one Conyers staffer told APN about the table remark.
Conyers’s Office has “been giving some comments around about wait to February, you won’t be disappointed,” Swanson said.
“Either Conyers sold out, which is stunning, a guy who’s wanted to impeach Bush, who published a report, who introduced H Res 635,” Swanson said.
“Or he’s lying to us when he says he agrees with Pelosi because he knows he’s gonna do investigations. That is the more likely case,” Swanson said.
“Still, he shouldn’t tell people to shut up for 3 months. It’s for his own good that people are mobilizing for impeachment. We have to build that movement now. He can’t in 3 months snap his fingers and have a movement. He ought to be glad there’s a grassroots movement for impeachment. That helps him,” Swanson noted.
“It’s not her table!” Swanson said of Pelosi. “And it’s not off the table anymore. Congresswoman McKinney put it on the table.”
“It is disgraceful to announce you’re not going to get to impeachment, but you’re going to do investigations, not knowing how they’re going to turn out. It’s like announcing phony investigations,” Swanson said of Pelosi’s statement.
“It’s not only misguided politics. It’s a refusal to uphold the office you swore to when you took office to uphold the Constitution,” Swanson said.
A majority of Americans have supported impeachment of Bush for several months, with one recent poll showing 51% do so.
“We’re at 51% before we get started,” Swanson said.
“If you just do investigations and we bring up evidence of crime on people’s TVs and we get to impeachment that way that would be fine too,” Swanson said.
“Right now we’re still much farther ahead than we ever think we are. We’re the majority and we still think we’re a leftist fringe group. The majority of Americans want to end the war, and impeachment, and that’s without the media coverage,” Swanson said.
“A majority of the public wants Articles of Impeachment and the process and the completed impeachment,” Swanson said.
“Of course we all know the President lied us in to the war, spies on us without warrants, detains without charge, tortures, murders, signs laws with signing statements,” Swanson said. “The idea we need to have investigations before we can know all the things we already know is a pretense by Congressmembers,” Swanson said.
“There’s no reason for citizens to put on that pretense,” Swanson said.
Swanson said the corporate media is the biggest obstacle to impeachment or indeed any meaningful education of the mass public about Bush’s violations of the law.
The media “is a problem. And it may be a fatal problem,” Swanson said.
“When we impeached Nixon we had a more responsible media,” he said.
“We’re impeaching Bush with a teeny group of corporations that are on his side doing his communications, and that’s the hurdle. When you talk with Congressmembers, the number one source of fear is the media,” Swanson said.
“If people want impeachment they should be writing letters to the editor and calling in radio shows,” Swanson said.
Also, Swanson said there are some promising new Members of Congress who he believes are likely to pursue impeachment. “Keith Ellison from Minnesota was for impeachment. He’s now in Congress. Carol Shea-Porter, an activist, won in New Hampshire. There are a handful of Democrats who got elected without DCCC money who may have some spine that older members don’t have.”
Since this article was first published, we were contacted by Carol Shea-Porter’s Chief of Staff, notifying us that she has not taken a position on impeachment.
“There’s endless stacks of evidence,” against Bush, Swanson said. Much of it is available at: www.afterdowningstreet.org/keydocuments
REMEMBERING H. RES 635, 2005-2006
Atlanta Progressive News has led the coverage of H Res 635 since long before the corporate media knew it existed. “The Atlanta Progressive News has reported regularly on this bill,” Conyers wrote on his blog, ConyersBlog, months ago.
US Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA) recently became the 39th total cosponsor of the bill. Her office has not yet provided comment but said they would do so. Her office did say Watson had decided in October to join the bill.
The current 39 total co-sponsors are Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA), Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), Rep. Jackson, Jr., (D-IL), Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), Rep. John Olver (D-MA), Rep. Major Owens (D-NY), Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ), Rep. Martin Sabo (D-MN), Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA), Rep. Fortney Pete Stark (D-CA), Rep. John Tierney (D-MA), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA), Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and Rep. David Wu (D-OR).
Georgia’s US Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) made waves in December 2005 when he said on a radio show he would support an impeachment bill should it be introduced. His spokesperson spinned the matter, saying he meant he would only support a bill that had gone through the proper channels.
Apparently, Mr. Lewis is not doing what he said he would do a year ago. This should probably be read as though he does not see McKinney’s bill as having gone through a thorough review process. To be sure, such a process was not available under the Republican-controlled, and Democratic-enabled rubber-stamp Congress.
In our last full report on impeachment we said our sources indicated there were 3 Members of Congress who were prepared to sign on to impeachment, should proper hearings be conducted. One of them, we said, was US Rep. John Lewis. Well, one of them was US Rep. Cynthia McKinney. The third one, we still can’t name.
Our latest analysis actually finds there are four Members of the current Congress who fall into the above category. However, one of them is US Rep. Cynthia McKinney, and even though her Congressional Offices are closing down, she vows to keep fighting.
Since this article was first published, we were contacted by Carol Shea-Porter’s Chief of Staff, notifying us that she has not taken a position on impeachment. Mr. Swanson did say he believed she might be supportive and of course he must have had a reason to believe that. Shea-Porter’s spokesperson said he does not know Swanson.
About the author:
Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor and National Correspondent for Atlanta Progressive News. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article may be reprinted in full at no cost where Atlanta Progressive News is credited.