My DEMOCRATIC Congresswoman Claims Gonzales Cannot Be Impeached!
Representatives Ellen Tauscher (CA 10th) and Jerry McNerney (CA 11th (with some guy inbetween). From Tauscher's website.
(NOTE: This post was originally written for my DailyKos diary. It received over 300 comments, a first for me after writing there for more than 3 years. I've added "NEW" information that came in from those many amazing comments so you can track how the story developed. I've also rearranged it from the original format, and added a few more images, so it will make more sense.)
Sometimes I think I am the only person in my district writing or phoning my Representative. I live in a very long skinny district, badly patched together, and a few years ago I got moved into former DLC Vice President Ellen Tauscher's district. Previously I was in George Miller's district and he's much more liberal. But I've come to believe it's a good thing for more liberals from the Western edge of San Francisco's East Bay to be all up in Ms. Tauscher's political face.
I thought I'd let her know I wanted some action on Gonzales. I'd been reading the Constitution regarding impeachment and it appeared to me (lay-person that I am) that Gonzales could be removed in this way and Bush would be unable to pardon him. Here's what I was looking at:
Here's where I figured we'd just push him out of office now and then charge him with crimes after Bush is no longer president (so he couldn't pardon him.)
* The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
* Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.
So I was assuming that Gonzales, being the Attorney General was a "civil officer" which would allow Congress to indeed impeach him and or cause him to resign under threat of impeachment.
* The President...shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
* The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
Congresswoman Tauscher responded thusly:
Good, good, I'm liking the sound of this...but then she says this:
Thank you for contacting me about Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. I have reviewed your comments and welcome this opportunity to share my views.
I have long been concerned about Attorney General Gonzales' role in crafting the Bush Administration's policies that deny prisoners captured in the War on Terror protections afforded to belligerents under the Geneva Convention, including the right to protection from torture. Recent allegations regarding his role in the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys for seemingly political purposes and an audit of FBI use of national security tools which revealed multiple breaches of FBI and Justice Department regulations are further cause for grave concern.
The Attorney General is the top law enforcement officer in the nation, and it is his responsibility to uphold the rule of law and respect for civil rights that are granted by the U.S. Constitution. As a member of the Armed Services Committee and the Human Rights Caucus, I am deeply concerned about abuse and violations of the rights of detainees in U.S. custody. These allegations have undermined our nation's credibility and have raised concerns in the international community that the United States no longer holds human rights as a guiding principle in its military and foreign policy.
Furthermore, the politicalization of the Department of Justice through the firing of U.S. Attorneys thought to be unsympathetic to Administration priorities and slow and incomplete responses to Congress by the Justice Department regarding this matter display a flagrant disregard for the Constitutionally-mandated neutrality of the legal system. The condoning of the abuse of national security powers by the FBI is further evidence of this disturbing trend. Accountability must begin at the top, and I expect the President to uphold openness and honesty in his Administration. As investigations into these matters continue, I will work with my colleagues to ensure that those who acted unethically - or even illegally - are held responsible.
The Attorney General serves at the pleasure of the president in a non-impeachable office. Unless convicted of an illegal act, the Attorney General cannot be removed from office without the president asking for or accepting his resignation. However, please be assured that I will keep your thoughts and concerns in mind as I review the circumstances surrounding recent allegations of impropriety within the Justice Department.
Ellen O. Tauscher
Member of Congress
Whatdayaknow...it turns out SHE'S QUITE WRONG! After reading the information shared by DailyKos readers, and doing more research, I'm convinced that my Democratic Congresswoman doesn't fully understand the very same Constitution she took an oath to uphold! So I wrote her again, and sent along with my letter, a big pile of PROOF that not only is Mr. Gonzales impeachable, it's her duty as my Representative to help remove him.
A Lady Writing Johannes Vermeer c. 1665-1666
Here is what I wrote in my 2nd letter to her:
Dear Representative Tauscher,
I received the enclosed email from you (or one of your staffers) in response to my message about impeaching Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (also enclosed). I was quite startled to read your claim that Gonzales is "not impeachable". According to the U.S. Constitution he is (please read enclosed documentation). I'm hoping that your staff simply got confused about this very serious situation and sent the wrong information to me, your constituent. A good read-through of the materials I've been studying myself will correct that error for my neighbors and others who write to you about this.
If you yourself responded to my letter then I respectfully request that you immediately study the enclosed documents regarding Congressional impeachment of "civil officers". It seems very clear to me (and to the American Bar Association, and to Professor Frank Bowman, all enclosed) that Mr. Gonzales is indeed impeachable.
I therefore again request that you begin impeachment proceedings against this man. He's either lying to Congress (a triple felony) or he's incompetent. Either way Mr. Gonzales is endangering our democracy every day he stays in office.
Please act as my representative in this urgent matter.
Here is the list of documents (PROOF) that I included with my letter:
1) A copy of the American Bar Association's "Impeachment: A Look at the Process. (Hat tip to DailyKos writer MLDB)
2) A copy of Professor Frank Bowman's NYT Op-Ed piece "He's Impeachable, You Know". (Hat tip to DailyKos writer 8ackgr0und N015e)
3) A copy of the Constitution (because she obviously needs it).
4) A copy of my original letter requesting she start impeachment proceedings against Gonzales.
5) A copy of Tauscher's response to my original letter.
And as advised by DailyKos writer mmacdDE, all pertinent excerpts are HIGHLIGHTED IN YELLOW!
I'll report back if I hear back from Tauscher's office. If I don't hear back from her, she'll hear back from me!
The "Quaint" United States Constitution (Remember when Alberto Gonzales called the Geneva Conventions quaint?
NOTE: Here's the text of the email I originally sent Tauscher. Please feel free to borrow any or all of it to send to your own Rep.
Dear Representative ...,
I have been watching Senate hearings at which Attorney General Gonzales is testifying about many, MANY irregularities and conflicting statements on several issues of national security etc. This man is not fit to continue in his position. He either seems confused, can't recall, or doesn't know the answer to most questions posed by the bipartisan Senate Committee. He's either lying about his involvement with various illegal activities, or he's incompetent! Either way, he needs to be removed.
The Constitution says:
"The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors. "
The President..."shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment."
I understand that to mean, if Congress impeaches Attorney General (or any other Bush appointee, cabinet member, civil employee etc.) Bush cannot pardon them and they will be held accountable.
I respectfully request that you begin impeachment proceedings against the Attorney General immediately. That will begin the unveiling of crimes and corruption that this administration has committed, and continues to commit.
If you made it all the way to the end of this post, thank you for taking the time to read this strange tale. You might want to check and see if your own Congressperson knows that Alberto Gonzales is impeachable by writing to them HERE!
You can also sign John Edwards' petition calling for Gonzales to resign HERE!