Conservative scholars Bruce Fein and Norm Ornstein argued yesterday on The Diane Rehm show that, should Bush remain defiant in defending his constitutionally-abusive wire-tapping of Americans (as he has indicated he will), Congress should consider impeaching him.
QUESTION: Is spying on the American people as impeachable an offense as lying about having sex with an intern?
BRUCE FEIN, constitutional scholar and former deputy attorney general in the Reagan Administration: I think the answer requires at least in part considering what the occupant of the presidency says in the aftermath of wrongdoing or rectification. On its face, if President Bush is totally unapologetic and says I continue to maintain that as a war-time President I can do anything I want — I don’t need to consult any other branches — that is an impeachable offense. It’s more dangerous than Clinton’s lying under oath because it jeopardizes our democratic dispensation and civil liberties for the ages. It would set a precedent that would lie around like a loaded gun, able to be used indefinitely for any future occupant.
NORM ORNSTEIN, AEI scholar: I think if we’re going to be intellectually honest here, this really is the kind of thing that Alexander Hamilton was referring to when impeachment was discussed.
(Listen to The Diane Rehm show here. The segment above begins at 33:40)
More from Knight-Ridder:
[Bush’s] explanation fueled more anger over the domestic spying, and some legal experts asserted that Bush broke the law on a scale that could warrant his impeachment.
“The president’s dead wrong. It’s not a close question. Federal law is clear,” said Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University and a specialist in surveillance law. “When the president admits that he violated federal law, that raises serious constitutional questions of high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Hotline Blog is tracking the “I” word.