Thank you so much for voting to approve Michael Mukasey as Attorney General. This courageous action by you and your colleagues will reverberate for decades around the world as our government restructures itself from a tripartite system to a unilaterally powerful executive branch subjected to no checks and balances provided by the greatly diminished legislative and judicial branches. The need for this type of governmental structure in the economic realities of the 21st century could not possibly have been foreseen by the authors of the Constitution in the 18th century. I understand how difficult it is to make decisions that fundamentally change the Constitution, and I commend you and thank you for taking this bold step.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
(Email from Congressman Wexler)
Our Constitution is under threat and the most basic principle of checks and balances is being undermined. Not since Watergate has a president so openly disregarded the will of Congress.
During hearings in the Judiciary Committee yesterday, I told Attorney General Michael Mukasey that I called for impeachment hearings because of the stonewalling and blatant abuses of the Bush Administration. He responded by stating that he will NOT enforce a contempt of Congress citation against Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten for refusing to testify before Congress. The video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7M9sjRLCtQ
Alberto Gonzales may be long gone, but the Bush Administration continues its executive overreach with the new Attorney General.
We can debate the need for Impeachment hearings. We can argue its effects on the election or our agenda. But one thing is abundantly clear:
If Congress' right to require testimony is undermined, then our country's leaders - Democrat, Republican, or Independent - will be immune from accountability.
The power of the subpoena - to call officials before us - is one of the most fundamental safeguards in our system of government. To have it effectively discarded - by virtue of the President instructing Administration officials to ignore a congressional subpoenas and not even appear before Congress - is unprecedented. The idea that the Attorney General would willingly defend this position - despite Congress' constitutional right to call such witnesses - is outrageous.
Impeachment hearings could render this moot: The President, Vice President, and all officials under them would no longer invoke executive privilege. There would be no more smokescreens.
In one week, I will be delivering my letter calling for impeachment hearings to Chairman John Conyers. Already, 16 Members of Congress have joined my call, including 3 Judiciary Committee members. I am hopeful for more in the coming days, but it is important for you to reach out to your representative in Congress to express how you feel. You can view the current list of signers, here: http://www.wexlerforcongress.com/news.asp?ItemID=230
I do not know how Congress will react, but I do know this: I will pursue this course aggressively. I will not compromise away the constitutional role of Congress. Your support is invaluable. Please know that I am working everyday to ensure that the Bush Administration is held accountable.
Please continue to support this movement at www.wexlerwantshearings.com.
Congressman Robert Wexler
(From Congressman Wexler to Chairman Conyers on 16 January 2008)
You have been a tireless champion of providing oversight to an Administration that has run roughshod over our constitution, that operates with no limits on executive branch authority and one that has repeatedly flouted the investigations and oversight the 110th Congress has tried to provide over the past year. We have the greatest respect for the work you have done and believe that impeachment hearings pertaining to Vice President Cheney are the best way to move that work forward.
Impeachment hearings will allow for the exact kind of oversight that you and the Democratic leadership have provided regarding the actions of the Administration but without the opportunity for the Bush Administration to ignore lawful requests for information, refuse subpoenas and effectively limit its own oversight.
Impeachment hearings can provide the opportunity to cut through the executive privilege defenses and force this Administration to answer a Congress it has clearly chosen to ignore. We know you would agree that as Members of Congress, we can not allow legitimate oversight to be thwarted or such a dangerous precedent to stand.
The charges against the Vice President relate to the core actions of this Administration, its unlawful behavior and its abuse of power. We are concerned with alleged crimes that are central to his duties of Vice President, including credible allegations of abuse of power that if proven may well constitute high crimes and misdemeanors under our constitution. As you know, the charges against Vice President Cheney include providing Congress and the American people false intelligence leading up to the Iraq war, the revelation of the identity of a covert agent for political retaliation, and the illegal wiretapping of American citizens.
We trust that you will hold a sober investigation and let the facts determine the outcome as you have as Chairman this past year. We sincerely believe that impeachment hearings are the appropriate and necessary next step given what we have seen of this Administration. Chairman Conyers, we are respectfully asking you join us and concerned citizens around the country in supporting impeachment hearings.
(From Congressman Wexler to House members on 16 January 2008)
Over the recess, I began collecting signatures online from citizens across the country in support of beginning impeachment hearings pertaining to Vice President Cheney. I was shocked by the overwhelming response. In just a few weeks, I have received almost 200,000 signatures. What I have learned is that Congress is way behind the American people on this issue. According to a November 13 poll by the American Research Group, nearly three-quarters of Americans believe that the Vice President has abused his power in office, and almost half believe he should be removed from office immediately. Now I am asking you to join me in supporting hearings by signing the attached letter to Chairman Conyers.
As I said in my op-ed with Representatives Luis Gutierrez and Tammy Baldwin in the Philadelphia Enquirer (attached), the issues at hand are too serious to ignore, including credible allegations of abuse of power that if proven may well constitute high crimes and misdemeanors as provided in our constitution. You do not have to believe that the case has already been made to support hearings. One of the important functions of hearings would be to put all the evidence on the table and let the facts determine where to go from there.
Chairman Conyers has been a leader in holding this Administration to account for its consistent pattern of ignoring the balance of powers set out by our Founding Fathers and baselessly asserting that it is above the law. I hope that you will sign the attached letter to Chairman Conyers asking that now he join us in support of impeachment hearings as well.