Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Impeaching the U.S. President - Online Resources

The "I" word is out in the open in the United States. "I" as in impeaching a sitting President.

Sure, for some time, the call for impeachment was making the rounds of various activist communities who oppose George W. Bush's Iraq and anti-terrorism policies. But now, the word has escaped from the political fringes into the mainstream press and it is being used in the halls of the American Congress in the context of the recent revelations about the National Security Agency eavesdropping on American citizens without a warrant. Being loose with the truth about going to war against Iraq also hasn't helped the atmosphere.

A few days ago, Newsweek magazine's Jonathan Alter used the word in his online column entitled "Bush’s Snoopgate", a clear reference to the Watergate scandal that brought down Nixon.

California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer has asked 4 constitutional scholars whether Bush has committed an "impeachable offense".

Michigan Democratic Congressman and Black Congressional Caucus leader John Conyers has called for creating a Select Committee to investigate the Bush Administration and report on possible impeachable offenses. In a minority report of the House Judiciary Committee written at Conyers' request and released December 20, the researchers conclude:

"There is a prima facie case that these actions by the President, Vice-President and other members of the Bush Administration violated a number of federal laws, including (1) Committing a Fraud against the United States; (2) Making False Statements to Congress; (3) The War Powers Resolution; (4) Misuse of Government Funds; (5) federal laws and international treaties prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; (6) federal laws concerning retaliating against witnesses and other individuals; and (7) federal laws and regulations concerning leaking and other misuse of intelligence. While these charges clearly rise to the level of impeachable misconduct, because the Bush Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress have blocked the ability of Members to obtain information directly from the Administration concerning these matters, more investigatory authority is needed before recommendations can be made regarding specific Articles of Impeachment. As a result, we recommend that Congress establish a select committee with subpoena authority to investigate the misconduct of the Bush Administration with regard to the Iraq war detailed in this Report and report to the Committee on the Judiciary on possible impeachable offenses".

To help follow the debate, here are some presidential impeachment resources:

  • Impeachment Documents Relating to a U.S. President (Ralph Brown Draughon Library, Auburn University, Alabama): the site provides access to all the main official documents relating to the impeachment of the three American presidents, namely Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. They include Congressional reports giving the reasons why each of the presidents was impeached, information about the process of impeachment in the U.S. political system and details of the outcomes in each case
  • The Federal Impeachment Process - A Bibliographic Guide to English and American Precedence, Historical and Procedural Development, and Scholarly Commentary (Cornell Law Library): orginally written in 1974, it was updated in 1998. As the preface to the original edition states: "What is provided in this compilation is a cogent path through the most important components of this process. Attention has been given to the historical development of Impeachment, the complex procedure that has evolved, the nature of an impeachable offense as revealed through specific English and American cases of Impeachment, and the various discussions of Impeachment by legal scholars and historians. This is the material that continues to be cited in practically every discussion of Impeachment, whether it be through monograph, journal article, government report, or newspaper editorial".
  • Impeachment Resources (Law Library of Congress): a detailed bibliography of books, articles, and reports
  • Guide to Impeachment and Censure Materials Online (Jurist Legal News & Research): this site was created by a team at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law during the Clinton impeachment. It is divided into sections on Impeachment Primers, Constitutional and Statutory Provisions on Impeachment, Impeachments in History, Impeachment Procedures, the Senate Trial of Andrew Johnson in 1868, Censure, Academic Opinion. N.B.: the site dates back to 1998 so some of the links no longer work but most of them not directly connected to the Clinton hearings are still OK
  • Eagleton Digital Archive of American Politics (Rutgers University): maintained by the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University to highlight significant political events in American history. Topics include the impeachment proceedings against Presidents Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton
  • Impeachment of Andrew Johnson (Harpers Weekly): This site contains the original coverage from Harpers Weekly magazine of the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. It provides the details of the legal, political and constitutional arguments for the impeachment and its progress. It includes biographies of the key players in the story
  • The Impeachment Trial of President Andrew Johnson (Library of Congress American Memory Project): The Congressional Globe, the predecessor to the Congressional Record, published a supplementary volume that provides a record of the documents and debates from the Senate trial in 1868
  • The Watergate Files (Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum): this collection of materials about the 1972-74 Watergate scandal includes declassified government documents, video clips and audio files from the Senate investigative hearings against Nixon. The site also includes a background history and timeline of events plus biographies of key individuals involved in the scandal and subsequent collapse of the Nixon presidency
  • Woodward and Bernstein Watergate Papers (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas Austin): The site offers a history of the work of Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein whose investigative reporting uncovered the Watergate scandal that destroyed the career of President Richard Nixon. The site includes a selection of their working archives, notes, draft newspapers stories and interviews
  • Impeachment of President William Jefferson Clinton (University of Michigan Documents Center): a very complete site about the impeachment process against Bill Clinton in 1998, it covers grand jury proceedings, House and Senate hearings, witness depositions, background documents, etc.


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:48 pm


Blogger Steve said...

Michel, Don't know if you'll see this comment on such an old post, but have you found a place where they have audio or video tapes of the original Watergate Hearings? It seems like a good time to broadcast them in their entirety. I've found a possible source at Vanderbilt University, but given it's a holiday weekend I don't expect to hear from them til Tuesday. And they look fairly expensive. Thanks.

5:49 pm  
Blogger Michel-Adrien said...

Hi Steve! I just came across this post from the beSpacific legal information blog:

Nixon Tapes and Transcripts Now Available Online - Sept 3, 2007

Hope this helps.

2:51 pm  

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