Four members of ImpeachforPeace.org met with the Honorable Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN 5th) in his Minneapolis offices Saturday morning, April 22nd to discuss the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
Early in the meeting, Ellison made clear that his opinion hasnâ€™t changed since he introduced a Resolution for the impeachment of President Bush as a Minnesota State Legislator by saying: â€œImpeachment should be on the table.â€
In Washington D.C. attending sessions of Congress during the week, Ellison regularly travels home to be with his wife Kim and four children each weekend, taking some time to meet with his constituents as well.
Running a bit late, Ellison explained that he had just gotten a haircut because he â€œwanted to look good for our meeting,â€ turning his head side to side to show off his barberâ€™s work. One member of IFP quipped: â€œIt was well worth the wait.â€
As everyone settled into their chairs and the laughter subsided, the mood quickly grew more serious as the topic of Ellisonâ€™s vote for the Veteransâ€™ Health & Iraq War Accountability Supplemental was discussed, which some in the local and national peace movement felt was a betrayal of Ellisonâ€™s commitment to seeking an immediate end to the Iraq War. A sharply critical letter from an IFP member not present was read and a framed graphic called â€œThe Impeachment Casualty Candleâ€ was set up on the table as a reminder to everyone present of the ultimate price already paid by so many of our troops and the high stakes still facing many American families, not to mention Iraqi families:
Ellison heard the criticism and handled it well, acknowledging and empathizing with the frustrations and anger of those who want the war over and our troops home immediately yet he made it clear that many in the Peace Movement had communicated to him that they understood and supported the strategy of confronting and isolating what even the Presidentâ€™s own Intelligence Agencies have identified as failed Iraq policies by passing a bill with a plan to end the war at some point.
Ellison called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who had gathered just enough of a consensus among fellow House Democrats to pass the measure, â€œa remarkable leaderâ€ who is quickly proving herself to be a gifted â€œcat herderâ€ of the various caucuses in the Democratic Party.
The topic quickly shifted to impeachment, with Rep. Ellison affirming that he is â€œwith the impeachment movement,â€ yet making clear that in order for him to consider supporting impeachment hearings, the charges spoken into the Congressional Record must be strongly grounded in verifiable facts and evidence as well as understood by and backed by the majority of the American people.
Not eager to be assailed by the radical rightâ€™s bevy of partisan media shills as â€œthe poster child for loonie leftists,â€ Ellison said that the most important thing he and his fellow members of Congress need from constituents is that they â€œkeep the drumbeat upâ€ for impeachment.
Ellison named fellow Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) as â€œa good friend,â€ saying â€œwe talk every dayâ€ during the week in Washington. With Kucinich reputedly poised to introduce Articles of Impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney this week, Ellison was measured in his commitment to join Kucinich. He made clear that he was supportive of the idea, but not if it only becomes a symbolic gesture. Ellison is only interested in seeing impeachment proceedings actually becoming a reality.
Stressing that he had not yet seen what specific charges Kucinich is intending to bring up against the Vice President, Ellison, formerly a criminal defense attorney, seemed as committed to guaranteeing the habeas corpus for Cheney that the Vice President regularly denies others.
Looking at his blackberry, Ellison said â€œmaybe Iâ€™ll give Dennis a call this weekend.â€
Noting that he has an activistâ€™s heart, when asked what efforts and strategies in support of impeachment might be most effective, Ellison suggested sending John Nicholâ€™s book The Genius of Impeachment, which he had read and appreciated, to members of Congress, starting with those on the House Judiciary Committee. ImpeachforPeace.org is listed in Nicholâ€™s book among the resources in Appendix 3, page 209 of that book.
Five filled out and signed Do-It-Yourself Impeachment Memorials were given to the Representative. Ellison had not heard of the DIY Impeachment and he was very interested in hearing that the Jeffersonâ€™s Manual, which is an integral part of the rules of the U.S. House of Representatives, allows for the initiation of articles of impeachment by an individual citizen.
The following Democratic HJC members were identified by Ellison as pivotal â€œswingâ€ votes who may need a strong and clear message from their constituents and other citizens in order to support any impeachment push:
(1) Hon. Jerrold Nadler (D) New York, 8th; (2) Hon. Howard L. Berman (D) California, 28th; (3) Hon. Zoe Lofgren (D) California, 16th; (4) Hon. Linda T. SÃ¡nchez (D) California, 39th.
The 71 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus as well as the 73 Out of Iraq Caucus members are among those more likely to be ready to join Kucinichâ€™ desire to get to the bottom of Vice President and former Halliburton CEO Cheneyâ€™s true motivations for pushing for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Cheneyâ€™s wishes can be traced back at least as far as 1998 when he was a co-signer of the Project for a New American Centuryâ€™s document: Rebuilding Americaâ€™s Defenses.
Many Democrats are in both caucuses, including Rep. Ellison.
The Lies and False Intelligence Leading up to the Invasion of Iraq in March of 2003 will most likely be at the crux of Kucinichâ€™ charges, because there is ample evidence as laid out in the linked article by IFPâ€™s Jodin Morey, but also because the country has grown increasingly unsupportive of President Bush, and distrustful of the reasons we were given as justification for going into Iraq.
As low as Bushâ€™s approval rating has plummeted, Mr. Cheneyâ€™s support from the American public has wallowed even deeper.
Asked about the possibility of impeachment actually occuring, Ellison immediately replied â€œyes, it can workâ€, but noted that by August all eyes will be looking forward to the next election cycle and by then the window of opportunity for justice and accountability for the Bush Administration may have passed.
He made clear that the public must be informed enough to see impeachment as warranted and necessary, but then act on that knowledge by communicating their desires for accountability through impeachment to Congress. This must take place to such a degree that Speaker Pelosi and others have no choice but to honor the wishes of our nationâ€™s citizens and to allow impeachment to go forward.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) of whom Ellison also expressed great respect, was named as being a pivotal figure in deciding whether the numerous investigations of the Bush Administration, now totalling over a hundred, were collectively revealing enough evidence to warrant the initiation of impeachment hearings. Any efforts to inform Rep. Waxman that impeachment is warranted and desired by the American people was encouraged.
Representative Ellison generously gave more than twice the time alloted by his schedulers, but then had to leave to attend an afternoon event one of his children was involved in.
As he drove east on Plymouth Avenue past the IFP members chatting in the parking lot, he beeped the horn on his economy car and waved, eyes remaining forward on the road. Two stickers were affixed to the rear bumper, one an AM950 Air America Radio red, white and blue emblem. The other was green but none of those standing in the parking lot were able to positively identify it as it faded into the distance.
The consensus from the group? Probably â€˜a Wellstoneâ€™.