Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

March 26, 2007

Chuck Hagel Is Talking Impeachment Again

by Doug Mataconis

Earlier this month, I wrote about statements by Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel that seemed to suggest that he thought President could be impeached because of his Iraq policy. Yesterday, he appeared on ABC’s This Week and made the speculation even more explicit:

WASHINGTON — Some lawmakers who complain that President Bush is flouting Congress and the public with his Iraq policies are considering impeachment an option, a Republican senator said Sunday.

Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee and a frequent critic of the war, stopped short of calling for Bush’s impeachment.

But he made clear that some lawmakers viewed that as an option should Bush choose to push ahead despite public sentiment against the war.

“Any president who says ‘I don’t care’ or ‘I will not respond to what the people of this country are saying about Iraq or anything else’ or ‘I don’t care what the Congress does, I am going to proceed’ — if a president really believes that, then there are … ways to deal with that,” Hagel said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Yes, Senator, there are ways to deal with it, but impeachment isn’t one of them.

Let’s go over this again, the impeachment power, set forth in Article II, Section 4 is pretty clear

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.

Hagel, however, is not talking about impeaching Bush for high crimes, misdemenaors, treason, or bribery, he is asserting the idea that the Congress has the right to seek to remove the President from office over a policy disagreement.

Part of the reason for this is fairly clear. Even if the Democrats Iraq War plan, which Hagel apparently supports, is able to garner enough votes to stop a filibuster and make it through the Senate, it is clear that the President will veto it. There is not enough support for the plan in either the House or the Senate to override the veto. Therefore, we’ll have stalemate and the President will be free to pursue his current Iraq policy unless Congress takes the step of cutting off funding for the war, which I submit they do not have the political courage to even try to do.

Like it or not, George Bush is President through January 20, 2009 and the Constitution gives him the authority as Commander in Chief to carry out the Iraq War as he sees fit.

Hagel’s comments also make it clear why the Founders limited the impeachment power the way that they did. If Congress had the authority to attempt to remove the President, Vice-President, or Justice of the Supreme Court at will, then separation of powers would become a meaningless concept, and the President would become a mere minister serving at the pleasure of whichever party has majority control of the Legislative Branch. That is what the Parlimentary system, which existed in England at the time the Constitution was written, is all about. Had the Founders wanted to mimic it, they very could have. The fact that they didn’t leads to the conclusion that they wanted co-equal branches of government for a reason.

Now, I am not a supporter of the President’s policy in Iraq. But he is the President and has the authority to carry it out. If Congress wishes to change that policy, then they can use the power of the purse to do so. If they don’t have the political courage to do that, they need to just be quiet until the Bush Administration is over.

H/T: Captain’s Quarters

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  • Linda

    If Senator Hagel is suggesting a system of Government by Referendum (i.e. based upon popular opinion), then let’s do it, however, in doing so, we no longer need Senators nor Congressmen. And to think he is planning to run for President. As a Republican, I am embarrassed.

  • GW Bush

    Chuck Hagel is a RINO and is an embarrassment to the Republican party. Why doesn’t he change his party affiliation to Dumbacrat since he’s already between the sheets with Harry Reidless, Nancy Slimeosi, Dickless Durbin, “I killed Mary Jo Kopechne” Kennedy, Lurch Rambo Kerry, “separated at birth from al sharpton” Chuck Rangel, and on and on and on. These people cannot get over the fact that they lost the past 2 Presidential elections and will never stop hating the Great Commander in Chief we now have, George W Bush.

  • GW Bush

    We all knew our great President was saving the ink in that veto pen for a good reason. GO W !!!!! We Love Ya Man !!!!!

  • tarran

    Yes, but if Bush is shown to have intentionally misled Congress in order to fraudulently obtain the authorization to conquer Iraq, then I think there is a credible case for impeachment.

    The message might be that there are grounds for impeachment (the alleged lying) and that the proceedings will be stayed if the president obeys Congress’ policy prescriptions.

    Then again, he may just be talking about cutting funding for the standing army. That wouldn’t really slow Bush down much though; Clinton for a time was funding operations in Bosnia by a special tax levied on the purchase of uniforms by service-members. When I bought a new collection of winter-blues, I think I purchased $5.00 worth of combat air support for the KLA.:)

  • Robert

    What good is an impeachment anyway. We went through an impeachement for a president who had an affair in the white house and he was able to finish out his term. Whay waist the tax payers money and everyone’s time.

  • Michael

    We need impeachment because there’s far more wrong with this administration than an unpopular war. This administration has lied, bullied and effectively negated the rule of law, bringing so much more shame and dishonor to the office of President than any other.

    The last impeachment process was a smear campaign to punish Clinton’s lies about sexual indiscretions. The high crime listed was lying to Congress and blocking a Congressional investigation. The charges were accurate, but overall the subject matter was not worthy of impeachment.

    By way of contrast, Bush has lied to the American public as well as to Congress on multiple issues, violated Federal and treaty law (the latter being a high crime according to our own Constitution), engaged in multiple criminal activities and continues to do so to this day. His administration has effectively claimed that Congress has no right to oversight, that they can do whatever they choose without consequence because they are the only government that counts.

    If that’s not impeachable, nothing is. Manipulating our nation into an unjust war, illegally spying on private citizens, suppressing vital information, leaking national secrets and ignoring laws with “signing statements” without consequence tells the rest of the world that we’re all talk and no substance. Unless we punish this administration for making a mockery of our Democracy, then we have truly lost our credibility and will not recover it soon. Why should we take the time to investigate impeachable offenses committed by this administration? Because we can’t truly claim to be a nation of laws and freedoms without it.

  • Logic Boy

    What are you stupid?

  • Michael

    I’m glad to see that intelligent debate is alive and well on this side of the fence.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/2006/11/22/comrades-i-hereby-declare-the-revolution/ Adam Selene

    Logic Boy is not a member of this site, does not represent the views of this site, etc. While we do not censor anyone’s comments, as a normal rule, Logic Boy needs to review our comment policy.

    Continued ad hominem attacks will result in Logic Boy’s comments being removed. If he persists, we will ban him by both IP address and email address.

  • Andy

    making up reasons for war (mixing Sep11 with WMD inside an illusionist Iraqi-monster house), sleeping on pre-Sept11 intelligence info, causing the death of thousands of Americans (and Iraqis, for those who count them as humans),selling contracts worth billions of US dollars to companies tied to the administration, refusing to provide propper protection for soldiers .. AbuGhareeb .. not to mention the detention of 500 men in Cuba without trial for 5 years (God knows if they are guilty of innocent) … these are not crimes of course; they not worth Impeachment … touching an intern’s boob however is

  • Elizabeth

    There have never before been such flagrant and grave violations of the US Constitution by any administration and we must call for impeachment if we are to ensure any semblance of democracy and accountability with future presidents.

    Jefferson wrote in 1791 that they had created “a near perfect republic… But will they keep it?” He was talking about us. We, the people. He imagined a day when a president would turn out to be corrupt. He foresaw that could coincide with a weak Congress and a press that was no longer truly free. When that day came Jefferson rested all his hope with the people.

    George Mason, a primary author of the Constitution, said that impeachment was the single most important part of the entire document. Without the ability of the people to impeach the President of the United States, he said the rest of the Constitution was irrelevant. Though the Constitution does not mention God once, it refers to impeachment six times. It is a vital part of democracy. The keystone of checks and balances.

    Calling for impeachment is not is not extreme. We are simply saying, “Follow the rules.” What is extreme is the flagrant abuse of executive power that should herald a unified cry for investigation by all patriots.

    But it’s only two more years. 01.20.09, right? Two more years of not questioning Bush or Cheney will cement our reputation throughout the world as a people who condone torture and lies. Two more years of standstills with Congress, and escalations of escalations is two years too many. Two more years of a soldier dying every 7 hours and mounting hatred toward our country–all to the tune of $2 billion a week–is unconscionable. Impeachment was created so that people could remove their leaders when they transgress the law, and not be forced to endure two more years.

    He has said the war will not end on his watch, so let’s end his watch early.

    Investigations for Clinton took only two months in the House and then the Senate and only occupies a small number of Congress members, not the entire legislative body. To worry about the cost–look at the cost of this unending war, which the new funding does not in any means bring an end to.

    Americans are upset but mostly silent about this administration’s violations of the 4th and 8th amendments, the Geneva Convention, and the UN Charter. Our silence implies consent both here and abroad. Some say impeachment investigations would be too costly and never result in a verdict. But can we afford the long-term costs to democracy if we render the US Constitution irrelevant with our inaction? Can we afford to continue to alienate ourselves from all other countries and allies? Can we afford a similar war based on lies in twenty years because it was “not practical” to set an example of accountability in 2007?

    The people in Congress should heed a Newsweek poll taken Oct. 20, 2006 just before elections that showed 51% of Americans wanted impeachment investigations to be a priority of the new Congress. I’m sure that number has only risen with his recent antics. The members of Congress need to courageously uphold their oath to “protect and defend the Constitution “against all enemies, foreign and —> domestic.”

  • mike

    I think that we the people of the US really need to make even more of a stand when it comes to our president we trusted him and put him there twice even though both times were questionable. It’s now time to correct our mistake and remove him from office before even more of our soldiers die.

  • John

    If an elected president has the right to do whatever he wants without any oversight, what is the difference between Bush and any other dictator who does not listen to his people.

  • Eric Wilds

    Congress never declared war on Iraq so as long as we are being Constitutional purists, then president Bush is not the Commander and Chief. And I think it’s legitimate to impeach the president and others in the administration for providing false intelligence to start a war.

    If Senator Hagel does have anything to apologize for is for voting to give president Bush authority to wage war in Iraq, a vote which abdicates Congress’s Constitutional power.

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