Nixon's Reputation Restored

By David Swanson

Once upon a time, the United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary passed the following article of impeachment (one of three) against President Richard M. Nixon:

“In his conduct of the office of President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, contrary to his oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has failed without lawful cause or excuse to produce papers and things as directed by duly authorized subpoenas issued by the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives on April 11, 1974, May 15, 1974, May 30, 1974, and June 24, 1974, and willfully disobeyed such subpoenas. The subpoenaed papers and things were deemed necessary by the Committee in order to resolve by direct evidence fundamental, factual questions relating to Presidential direction, knowledge or approval of actions demonstrated by other evidence to be substantial grounds for impeachment of the President. In refusing to produce these papers and things Richard M. Nixon, substituting his judgment as to what materials were necessary for the inquiry, interposed the powers of the Presidency against the the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, thereby assuming to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the sole power of impeachment vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives. In all of this, Richard M. Nixon has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, Richard M. Nixon, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.”

In 2008, the same committee, now chaired by a congress member who served on the committee at the time of the Nixon impeachment proceedings, John Conyers, Jr., rehabilitated Nixon’s reputation and in effect – apologized for having suggested that it might be an impeachable offense to refuse to comply with congressional subpoenas.

How so? Well, by refusing to impeach George W. Bush for repeatedly refusing to comply with subpoenas, or for ordering former employees to refuse to comply (arguably a felony known as obstruction of justice).

Ah, but these are not subpoenas issued by an impeachment committee, you say. These are just “ordinary” congressional subpoenas.

Not so fast! Actually, the article above refers to impeachable offenses, not the fact that the subpoenas were part of an impeachment investigation. If you have any doubt that the topics covered in the Bush subpoenas are impeachable offenses, you need go no further than John Conyers’ book on the topic: “George W. Bush versus the U.S. Constitution.” And if you want Bush to refuse to comply with a subpoena from an impeachment committee, just form one, send a subpoena, and wait a week. If he complies, miracles are possible and I’ll multiply some bread and fishes for you.

Take a look at the following article of impeachment introduced by Congressman Dennis Kucinich on Monday along with 34 other articles, and then I’ll tell you a secret.

Article XXVII
FAILING TO COMPLY WITH CONGRESSIONAL SUBPOENAS AND INSTRUCTING FORMER EMPLOYEES NOT TO COMPLY

In his conduct while President of the United States, George W. Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed”, has both personally and acting through his agents and subordinates, refused to comply with Congressional subpoenas, and instructed former employees not to comply with subpoenas.

Subpoenas not complied with include:

1.A House Judiciary Committee subpoena for Justice Department papers and Emails, issued April 10, 2007;
2.A House Oversight and Government Reform Committee subpoena for the testimony of the Secretary of State, issued April 25, 2007;
3.A House Judiciary Committee subpoena for the testimony of former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and documents , issued June 13, 2007;
4.A Senate Judiciary Committee subpoena for documents and testimony of White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, issued June 13, 2007;
5.A Senate Judiciary Committee subpoena for documents and testimony of White House Political Director Sara Taylor, issued June 13, 2007 (Taylor appeared but refused to answer questions);
6.A Senate Judiciary Committee subpoena for documents and testimony of White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, issued June 26, 2007;
7.A Senate Judiciary Committee subpoena for documents and testimony of White House Deputy Political Director J. Scott Jennings, issued June 26, 2007 (Jennings appeared but refused to answer questions);
8.A Senate Judiciary Committee subpoena for legal analysis and other documents concerning the NSA warrantless wiretapping program from the White House, Vice President Richard Cheney, The Department of Justice, and the National Security Council. If the documents are not produced, the subpoena requires the testimony of White House chief of staff Josh Bolten, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Cheney chief of staff David Addington, National Security Council executive director V. Philip Lago, issued June 27, 2007;
9.A House Oversight and Government Reform Committee subpoena for Lt. General Kensinger.

In all of these actions and decisions, President George W. Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President George W. Bush, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.

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OK, here’s the secret I promised to let you in on. I only mentioned Bush’s refusal to comply with subpoenas so that I could mention Nixon. In the pantheon of Bush crimes, this one hardly rises to the level of third-string. In fact, the current president not only flaunts the law. He openly rewrites it. Check this out. Read it carefully. It really does say what it looks like it says:

Article XXVI
ANNOUNCING THE INTENT TO VIOLATE LAWS WITH SIGNING STATEMENTS, AND VIOLATING THOSE LAWS

In his conduct while President of the United States, George W. Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed”, has used signing statements to claim the right to violate acts of Congress even as he signs them into law.

In June 2007, the Government Accountability Office reported that in a sample of Bush signing statements the office had studied, for 30 percent of them the Bush administration had already proceeded to violate the laws the statements claimed the right to violate.

In all of these actions and decisions, President George W. Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President George W. Bush, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.