Friday, April 20, 2007

Whither impeachment?

The one question looming over the entire Gonzales hearing is what will happen to him? I noticed that in a article written by Richard Schmitt in today's LA Times makes the point that Gonzales can only be removed by resigning or being fired by the President:

It is far from certain that Gonzales will be forced to step aside. The hearing produced no evidence to support the most provocative claim of his critics — that the firings were orchestrated to affect public corruption cases in a way that would aid Republicans. And while some senators fumed about the lack of detail that Gonzales offered, Congress is powerless to remove him from office.

However, other newspapers including this Boston Globe editorial from 3 weeks ago make the point that he should be impeached, as any sitting cabinet member in theory can be. As the Globe says,

But can the House impeach the attorney general? The Constitution is clear that Congress may impeach "all civil officers of the United States." In our history, the House has impeached two presidents, and just one member of the Cabinet, William Belknap, secretary of war under president Ulysses S. Grant.

I am certainly no lawyer, but the Constitution states very simply:

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. Article II, Section 4.

Whether Gonzales' behavior is a "High Crime or Misdemeanor," I don't know. But it's pretty obvious that he falls under the category of a member of the Executive branch who can be impeached. In any case, it seems to me that the Globe has it right, which makes me wonder, why did Schmitt assert the opposite without acknowledging that the impeachability of a sitting AG is a debatable point? Poor research? Poor editorial control? A political agenda? This is an important point in the whole scandal, and the LA Times missed the mark.

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