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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Congressman Conyers Meets with Impeachment Advocates

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Milwaukee’s active advocates for impeachment were surprised last week when the one man who could move forward impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives —Michigan Congressman John Conyers, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee—agreed to meet with them for an hour the next day. The impeachment advocates had protested Conyers’ attendance at a fund raiser last Monday for Rep. Steve Kagan (D-Green Bay). But Conyers spoke with the protesters, and then invited them to discuss impeachment the next morning.

“We gave him a lot to think about,” said Debbie Metke, who attended the meeting. Conyers has sent mixed signals about his willingness to act on impeaching President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other members of the administration. While House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi had promised that impeachment was “off the table” prior to the 2006 election, Conyers has shown some support for it over the years.

At the 2005 Fighting BobFest, Conyers promised that if Democrats won a majority in the House, he’d act on impeachment. In May, Conyers sent a letter to the president warning that if the United States attacked Iran without congressional approval, he would begin impeachment proceedings. Yet Conyers has not acted on the 35 articles of impeachment introduced by his colleague, Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich, in June.

In his Milwaukee meeting last week, Conyers didn’t make any promises, although he did say that while Pelosi took impeachment off the table, he did not.

No Promises

But Conyers didn’t say that he’d begin impeachment proceedings in the House.

“He has sent mixed signals all along,” said David Redemann, a citizen supporter of impeachment. “This meeting was more of the same.” Conyers said that he and Kucinich would discuss the matter with the other House members to see if there was any support for it. But he warned that the conservative Blue Dog Democrats, as well as Democrats who are serving their first term in Congress, would be unlikely to support impeaching Bush for crimes he committed while in office.

Conyers also hinted that alternative measures could be taken so that Bush and his allies could be tried for crimes after they leave office.

The Milwaukee advocates argued that impeachment proceedings would help Democrats in the November election, since voters want the president and vice president to be held accountable for their actions in office.

Although the advocates didn’t come away from the meeting with Conyers’ commitment to support impeachment, they did give him credit for meeting with them to discuss it. “I think he does want to do it,” Metke said. “But he feels his hands are tied.”

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