By Josiah Ryan, CNSNews.com [CNSNews has since removed the article] – At a gathering of liberal activists in Washington on Tuesday, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) was asked if he would commit to holding the Bush administration accountable once a Democrat is in the White House and illegal acts have been pinned on President Bush.
“Yes, you have my word on that,” Conyers replied. He then shook the questioner’s hand as a sign of his commitment.
Conyers, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, told an audience at the liberal Take Back America Conference that he is wrestling with the idea of beginning impeachment proceedings against President Bush and Vice President Cheney, but he believes that such an effort might hamper Sen. Barack Obama’s chance of winning the presidency.
However, Conyers guaranteed his liberal audience that he will pursue legal action against Bush after the November elections.
“There are those who said, if you elect Democrats to Congress, we will guarantee you two things: Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y) will become chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and he will raises taxes; and Conyers will become chairman of the Judiciary and he will impeach President George W. Bush,” Conyers said. “You want to make them half right?”
The audience replied with thirty seconds of hearty applause. Conyers was speaking at a panel discussion entitled “The Republic Against the Rogue Presidency.”
“Dear friends, this [impeachment] is a decision I am struggling with, and I want to share it here. Do I want to jeopardize the election by taking up this issue?” Conyers asked. “The problem is, this could become the issue of the 2008 election. This brilliant, talented Senator (Obama), who has more delegates and more votes than anybody else, could get derailed.”
When Cybercast News Service asked Conyers to clarify the statement, he said, “I am afraid they would raise it in the campaign, and that they will use it against us, and that we would end up getting McCain. I would regret that for the rest of my life,” he said. “That’s the only reason. That would be my fear.”
But Conyers told Cybercast News Service this does not mean the Bush administration will not be held accountable. “We can win this election and go get these guys afterwards. But we just don’t want to jeopardize November 4th,” he said.
Different panelists offered perspectives on why they think President Bush deserves to be brought before a court.
David Cole, a law professor at Yale University and a legal correspondent for The Nation magazine, said Bush’s refusal to yield to the constitutional system of checks and balances is one of his biggest crimes.
President Bush has decided he has “unilateral, uncheckable power with respect to the enemy,” Cole said. “The only checks and balances this president believes in is check and balances within the White House,” he added.
Conyers has his own list of complaints against the Bush administration. “You get cocky, you get arrogant and you think you can do anything. And frequently you will try to do anything,” he said.
Conyers told the crowd there is one scenario that could trigger immediate impeachment proceedings against the president: “If Bush goes into Iran he should be impeached,” Conyers said, noting that “many members of Congress” have signed their names to a letter warning Bush not to invade Iran.
The fifth annual Take Back America Conference includes forums that allow liberals to discuss important issues, including how to recover from the “ashes of this conservative era,” as the Web site put it.
Conyers is one of the Bush administration’s chief antagonists in Congress, opposing the president on almost every issue, including the Iraq war, health care, terrorist surveillance, and other issues.
Just last week, his Judiciary Committee took the rare step of filing a civil lawsuit against former White House aides Joshua Bolten and Harriet Miers for failing to obey a committee subpoena. Conyers wants to force the two to testify about the firings of nine federal prosecutors in 2006.
The House cited Bolten and Miers for contempt of Congress last month.