Nixon Ignored Subpoenas Too

By David Swanson

Condoleezza Rice is refusing to comply with a subpoena to appear before Congress. The Justice Department is refusing to produce subpoenaed documents. Harriet Miers and Sara Taylor will almost certainly refuse to comply with subpoenas to appear. Dick Cheney has said that if he is subpoenaed he will not testify. Karl Rove has made his refusal to obey the law so clear that Congressional Committees that have approved subpoenas for him are afraid to actually issue them. The White House has shamelessly indicated that it does not intend to start obeying any of these subpoenas anytime soon.

The Bush-stacked courts appear to be a venue insufficiently friendly to the Constitution to enforce compliance with subpoenas. Holding the subpoenaed individuals in “inherent contempt” of Congress and instructing the Capitol Police to sieze them for a trial on Capitol Hill would work if we weren’t talking about a Congress afraid of its own shadow. But these are not the only options. It’s important to remember that President Richard Nixon’s White House refused to comply with subpoenas as well. The House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment against Nixon, leading to his rapid departure from the Washington swamp. This was Article 3:

“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.”

You’re damn right such conduct warrants impeachment and trial. And it’s coming.

On Wednesday, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Chair of the Out of Iraq Caucus and member of the Judiciary Committee, joined Congresswomen Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey, the two Co-Chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, as well as Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Chief Deputy Whip and a member of the Steering and Policy Committee, and Congress Members Yvette Clarke, William Lacy Clay, Albert Wynn, and Dennis Kucinich in cosponsoring Articles of Impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney (H. Res. 333).

Waters and Kucinich spoke about this effort. Here’s a video:

Here are details on the bill and what it’s going to take to impeach Cheney and Bush:

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