Even before the NSA al Qaeda spying uproar, it has been clear that some Democrats want to win control of the House in 2006 in large part so they can begin impeachment proceedings against President Bush. Yesterday, for example, Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis said that, “In my opinion, the president has violated the law, and the House and Senate must pursue their inquiries into this illegal program.” If lawmakers “determine once and for all whether the law was violated,” Lewis said, “there is no question that the U.S. Congress has impeached presidents for lesser offenses.”
Such sentiments also prevail in some corners of the Senate. Failed presidential candidate John Kerry reportedly said recently (before the NSA revelations) that, “If we take back the House, there’s a case to bring articles of impeachment against this president.” And yesterday, California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer sent a letter to four “presidential scholars” asking them to analyze whether Bush could be impeached for authorizing the NSA program to spy on the international telephone calls of people with known al Qaeda connections. Boxer’s inspiration for asking this question came from a conversation she had with Nixon White House counsel John Dean, author of Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush. The following is the text of Boxer’s letter:
December 19, 2005
On December 16, along with the rest of America, I learned that President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to spy on Americans without getting a warrant from a judge. President Bush underscored his support for this action in his press conference today.
On Sunday, December 18, former White House Counsel John Dean and I participated in a public discussion that covered many issues, including this surveillance. Mr. Dean, who was President Nixon’s counsel at the time of Watergate, said that President Bush is “the first President to admit to an impeachable offense.” Today, Mr. Dean confirmed his statement.
This startling assertion by Mr. Dean is especially poignant because he experienced first hand the executive abuse of power and a presidential scandal arising from the surveillance of American citizens.
Given your constitutional expertise, particularly in the area of presidential impeachment, I am writing to ask for your comments and thoughts on Mr. Dean’s statement.
Unchecked surveillance of American citizens is troubling to both me and many of my constituents. I would appreciate your thoughts on this matter as soon as possible.
United States Senator