Guest: David Dayen on the 'incredible' anti-trust hearing in the House and his new book 'Monopolized'; Also: Cain dies of COVID; Trump tries to distract from newly disastrous economic numbers; Rep. Lewis laid to rest...
In today's Tim Dickinson interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Rolling Stone, it sure seems like she's leaning towards accountability for the criminals in the Bush Administration. Many of her words sound like the correct ones, even if she's a bit too enamored of Leahy's "Truth and Reconciliation Committee" proposal, which, among other "shameful" things, would likely results in a whole bunch of immunity, to a whole bunch of folks who deserve no such thing.
But she says she supports what Conyers is doing in the Judiciary Committee, in continuing to pursue Rove, Bolten and Miers. She says she can foresee a scenario in which senior members of the Administration are actually prosecuted. She says "The American people do not want wrongdoing to go unaddressed." She even said similar words to Fox "News" two days before the Inauguration.
So why does it always feel like she's still sitting on a fence? And, if she really believes these words she says, as House Speaker, can't she do more to make them happen?
Here's the snippets of note from Dickinson's interview. You tell us what the inscrutable Speaker really means. Or does she even know herself?...
Her words are more impressive when read, than when seen in the video, I think. Nonetheless, both seem to reveal a Pelosi at a bit of a crossroads. Perhaps. Could the woman who took impeachment "off the table" be ready to now move in a different direction?
In a Sunday morning interview with Fox' Chris Wallace, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi signaled that she's open to backing prosecutions of Bush administration officials that may arise from congressional hearings.
"I think we have to learn from the past and we cannot let the politicizing of, for example, the Justice Department to go unreviewed," said Pelosi, . "The past is prologue, we learn from it... I want to see the truth come forth."
"I think you look at each item and see what is a violation of the law and do we even have a right to ignore it," Pelosi said. "We have a contempt of Congress against members of the executive branch who withheld information from us."
The words that impress me most there: "You look at each item and see what is a violation of law and do we even have a right to ignore it."
As usual, BRAD BLOG readers were right in overwhelmingly determining, in our poll just after the New Year, that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would fold on his previous rhetoric promising to disallow the seating of anybody appointed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich to replace Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate. Roland Burris was sworn in as the newest U.S. Senator just minutes ago, as Reid and his fellow Dems stood in the background applauding.
Of course, as it turned out, it wasn't a difficult poll question to answer, given both the laws concerning such appointments, and the historical record of Reid's inability to either stick to his guns in any fight (ever) or, perhaps even more disturbingly, his failure to have even the slightest clue of when and with whom such battles should be picked.
Presuming Obama makes smart decisions at the White House (and that's certainly no safe assumption), there will only be so much he'll be able to accomplish --- ultimately, particularly after whatever honeymoon he's allowed is gone --- as long as Reid remains Majority Leader in the Senate, and Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer are Speaker and Majority Leader, respectively, in the U.S. House.
They are all three dinosaur fossils of a failed era, have a record of miserable incompetence and need to be replaced. The only question is will it be before or after a thumping in the midterm 2010 elections.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's appearance Monday at a West Los Angeles college to discuss her recently published book was marred by dozens of protesters and several angry outbursts by audience members who demanded Pelosi immediately authorize a House committee to hold impeachment hearings against George W. Bush.
The Speaker made it clear she would not support any effort to hold impeachment hearings against George W. Bush Bush saying that he "will be gone in a hundred days."
Halfway through her discussion at The American University of Judaism, where more than 300 people paid $30 each to hear Pelosi speak about her upbringing and her family's impact on her political career as detailed in her book Know Your Power: A Message to America’s Daughters, the topic shifted to Congress's historically low approval rating and how it reflected on Pelosi’s tenure as Speaker.
An outbreak of protest ensued leading to one protester being escorted out of the event by the Secret Service. Later, blogger Alan Breslauer was also yanked away from the Speaker by Secret Service agents, after attempting to ask a question of her during her book signing session. Some of those protests can be seen in the video at right.
American University of Judaism's Rabbi Robert Wexler, who led the 75-minute interview, asked Pelosi to analyze a recent Rasmussen poll that found nine percent of individuals polled believed Congress was doing a good job, far lower than Bush's overall approval rating.
Pelosi responded by defending her performance and the performance of her Democratic colleagues in Congress.
"I preside over the greatest collection of integrity and idealism," Pelosi said. Prior to her appearance in West Los Angeles Monday evening, CNN’s Larry King interviewed Pelosi. She told King she was willing to drop her staunch opposition to offshore drilling and would likely allow the House to vote on the issue.
She said, in her opinion, the reason behind Congress’s low approval rating was largely due to the fact that Democrats could not muster up the votes to end the Iraq war, which the Democratic Speaker from San Francisco said she could not do much about because of the Democrats’ razor-thin majority in both Houses.
Wexler, however, continued to press Pelosi to elaborate on her response given that the Rasmussen poll suggested that a wide-range of issues beyond the Iraq war was responsible for Congress’s single-digit approval. Pelosi, visibly flustered, said she was well aware that “much more work needs to be done.”...
A Bush-appointed federal judge has found that White House aides, such as Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers (and even Karl Rove, though he wasn't a part of this court case, and so not named) must show up when called by Congress to testify:
“The executive’s current claim of absolute immunity from compelled Congressional process for senior presidential aides is without any support in the case law,” Judge John D. Bates ruled in United States District Court.
Judge Bates, who was appointed to the bench by President Bush in 2001, said Ms. Miers cannot simply ignore a subpoena to appear but must state her refusal in person. Moreover, he ruled, both she and Mr. Bolten must provide all non-privileged documents related to the dismissals.
The NYTimes report goes on to note that "The White House is almost certain to appeal the ruling."
Of course they are. Tick, tick, tick...
In related news...Nancy Pelosi, said --- incredibly --- when asked about why she won't Impeach on ABC's The View this week: "I thought that Impeachment would be divisive...If someone had a crime that the President had committed, that would be a different story."
Huh? Did she seriously say that? Yes, she did. See the remarkable video at right for proof, along with Kucinich's response to her breath-taking comments.
Impeachment shouldn't be done, she continued, with two feet firmly planted in her Bizarro World, "unless you have the goods that this President committed a crime."
(Pardon us while we pick up our head from the floor...)
WASHINGTON (AP) — A House panel Wednesday voted to cite former top White House aide Karl Rove for contempt of Congress as its Senate counterpart publicly pursued possible punishments for an array of alleged past and present Bush administration misdeeds.
Voting along party lines, the House Judiciary Committee said that Rove had broke the law by failing to appear at a July 10 hearing on allegations of White House influence over the Justice Department, including whether Rove encouraged prosecutions against Democrats.
The committee decision is only a recommendation, and it was unclear whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., would allow a final vote. Rove has denied any involvement with Justice decisions, and the White House has said Congress has no authority to compel testimony from current and former advisers.
...Rove has denied any involvement with Justice decisions, and the White House has said Congress has no authority to compel testimony from current and former advisers.
The White House's opinion that advisers cannot be compelled to testify does not address whether or not the witness is nonetheless required to appear in response to a subpoena. From Congress.
It remains to be seen whether Congressional Democrats will actually assert authority and re-establish parity as a co-equal branch of the federal government under the Constitution, or if this is just more sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Last February the full House voted to hold White House officials Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers in contempt of Congress. They have failed to enforce that vote, which passed 223 to 32, and AG Mukasey has said he would not enforce the House's contempt finding.
Last December, the Senate Judiciary Committee recommended finding Rove in contempt in a bi-partisan 12 to 7 vote, during which Republican Arlen Specter noted "we have no alternative," given Rove's snub of the subpoenas issued by the panel.
Despite the endorsement from even two Republicans on the committee, Democratic Senate majority leader Harry Reid has failed to bring the recommendation to the full Senate for a vote. Will Pelosi hold the House committee's endorsement (and the will of the American people, and the Rule of Law) in similar contempt?
UPDATE FROM BRAD: In addition to the Committee's finding of contempt, the resolution passed today also recommends an interesting additional course of action recommended for the House, as noted in the Resolution's markup memo [WORD] that we received from the House Judiciary this morning...
Perhaps impeachment won't die in the House Judiciary Committee after all, as Pelosi gently --- if tepidly --- seemed to put the topic back on the table, according to Politico today, (via RAW STORY):
Pelosi has said previously that impeachment "was off the table," so her comments this morning were surprising, and clearly signaled a new willingness to entertain the idea of ousting Bush, although no one in the Democratic leadership believes that is likely since the president has only six months left in this term.
"This is a Judiciary Committee matter, and I believe we will see some attention being paid to it by the Judiciary Committee," Pelosi told reporters. "Not necessarily taking up the articles of impeachment because that would have to be approved on the floor, but to have some hearings on the subject."
Pelosi added: "My expectation is that there will be some review of that in the committee."
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) filed 35 Articles of Impeachment against George W. Bush in June. Those articles, like the ones before them against Dick Cheney, were referred to House Judiciary where action has yet to be taken on them. Yesterday, Kucinich announced that he will introduce yet another Article today, on Bush lying the country into war, in a privileged resolution on the House floor.
This morning, his office announced the new article will be filed between 3:30 and 4:00pm ET today. They are asking the public to sign their petition calling on Congress to take action on the matter.
DISCLOSURE:The BRAD BLOG was consulted by Kucinich concerning the Bush Articles of Impeachment. The information submitted was included in Article 28, "Tampering with Free and Fair Elections" and Article 29, "Conspiracy to Violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965" of the original 35 Articles filed last month against Bush.
The Florida computer programmer turned infamous whistleblower was allegedly asked by Jeb Bush crony (and future FL-24-R Congressman) Tom Feeney to write vote-flipping software for him in 2000 (here's the quick summary version of BRAD BLOG's coverage of the scandal). At the time, Curtis, then a loyal Republican, delivered the vote-rigging prototype to Feeney under the assumption that his software would be used to prevent e-voting manipulation by Democrats. When Curtis learned that the true purpose was to game the election results in South Florida, he blew the whistle.
A stacked-deck investigation by the Florida Ethics Commission --- where 6 of the 8 members of the panel are either Bush or Feeney appointees, or closely tied to one or both --- dismissed Curtis’ allegations without allowing him to testify, and without examining email and other evidence in the case, in violation of FL law. But Curtis would not go quietly.
He became a crusader, speaking at election integrity events around the country and eventually delivering jaw-dropping testimony (video here) to a stunned Congressional committee (who did nothing in response). Curtis even passed a lie detector test administered by the retired chief polygrapher for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Meanwhile, Feeney has been branded among the “Top 25 Most Corrupt in Congress,” for three years straight, by CREW, the non-partisan DC ethics watchdog group, most notably for his involvement --- and golf junket to Scotland --- with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
In 2006, Curtis launched his first congressional bid --- now as a Democrat --- taking on Feeney himself for his FL-24 seat. A pre-election Zogby poll showed Curtis in a statistical dead heat with Feeney --- despite Feeney’s big-money smear campaign against Curtis (‘CrazyClintCurtis.com’ featured doctored photos of Curtis wearing a tin foil hat). But on election night, Feeney was announced the winner 57%/43%. Problem is, those election results didn’t make much sense based on the Zogby poll or Curtis’ own internal polling. So Curtis did something remarkable. He filed a Congressional election challenge.
His team went door to door collecting signed affidavits from FL-24 voters testifying as to how they voted. They found the results to be wildly off, by double digits in some places. Despite this evidence, the Democratically controlled House committee summarily dismissed his election challenge, along with several others, without bothering to even review Curtis' evidence.
And yet, Curtis is once again going after the FL-24 Congressional seat. Only this time, he’s not just running against Feeney. First he must defeat an attempt to challenge him by the Democratic party's hand-picked candidate.
We caught up with Curtis on the campaign trail where he made it clear, in our exclusive interview, that he had no intention of lying down or rolling over for naysayers, Democratic insiders, the woman chosen by the DCCC to challenge him, and certainly not the corrupt Tom Feeney...
Democratic leaders and aides tell The Politico that pursuing the contempt citations in conjunction with the stimulus package would "step on their message" of bipartisanship.
“Right now, we’re focused on working in a bipartisan fashion on [the] stimulus,” House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) told Politico...
Seriously, we must remember to speak with Hoyer and Pelosi about this terrific bridge we've got for sale. We're certain they'd be interested.
[T]oday Mr. Kucinich took to the floor to fire off his latest salvo at the Bush administration: his plans to introduce Articles of Impeachment against President Bush on Jan. 28 — the day of Mr. Bush’s State of the Union speech.
Accusing the administration of lying about the need for the war in Iraq, Mr. Kucinich said he did not need to hear the president’s
assessment. “We know the State of the Union,” he declared. “It’s a lie.”
He also fired a volley at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California who has maintained that impeaching Mr. Bush is not on the table for Congressional Democrats. “If impeachment is off the table,” Mr. Kucinich said, “truth is off the table. If truth is off the table then this body is living a lie.”
Yes, a lie. Some 935 of them to be exact-ish, on just one aspect of what the Kucinich Impeachment articles will detail.
As we reported last December, Kucinich has been preparing, for some time, to file Articles of Impeachment against George W. Bush. While the Democratic "Leadership" may not like the notion, it should come as welcome news to the country's few remaining admirers of the U.S. Constitution.
The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is attempting to build a case of misconduct against Alberto Gonzales by showing that the former attorney general may have played a hands-on role in ousting former New Mexico US Attorney David Iglesias based on pressure he received from former White House political adviser Karl Rove, according to several individuals familiar with the agency's probe.
Succumbing to improper political pressure in firing a US attorney would constitute a violation of Justice Department policy.
Recently, the OPR contacted Iglesias's former executive assistant, Rumaldo Armijo, to interview him about whether he was pressured by Pat Rogers, a Republican attorney in Albuquerque, and Mickey Barnett, a Republican lobbyist, to bring charges of voter fraud against Democrats in the state, individuals with knowledge of the scope of the OPR probe said.
Rogers was affiliated with the American Center for Voting Rights, a now defunct non-profit organization that sought to defend voter rights and increase public confidence in the fairness and outcome of elections. However, it has since emerged that the organization played a major role in suppressing the votes of people who intended to cast ballots for Democrats in various states. Rogers is also the former chief counsel to the New Mexico state Republican party, and was tapped by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico) to replace Iglesias as US Attorney for New Mexico.
In an interview with Truthout in May, Iglesias said he had investigated so-called voter fraud allegations and found zero evidence to support the claims. He added that, based on evidence that had surfaced thus far and "Karl Rove's obsession with voter fraud issues throughout the country," he now believes GOP operatives had wanted him to go after Democratic-funded organizations in an attempt to swing the 2006 midterm elections to Republicans.
The BRAD BLOG has, of course, been following the GOP's voter suppression scam, headed by the so-called "American Center for Voting Rights" (ACVR) for years, ever since we first outed them as a phony GOP front group back in March of 2005. See our ACVR Special Coverage page for the entire sordid mess.
As well, in March of 2007, we ran exclusive comments from John Boyd, one of the top Democratic attorneys in New Mexico, who offered his first hand account of the pressure being brought to bear on Iglesias by Republicans in the state to bring phony charges of Democratic "voter fraud" as far back as prior to the 2004 election.
A review of Boyd's insider perspective is instructive, to say the least, particularly as we head into 2008 when disingenuous cries of "voter fraud" will be heard from Republicanists from coast to coast --- as long as they don't concern Ann Coulter's own voter fraud --- and as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear a key case on Photo ID polling place restrictions, described by the Century Foundation's Tova Andrea Wang, in her year-end column, "The Best and Worst of 2007: Voting Rights and Elections," to be "a far more important decision than Bush v. Gore ever was."
But with the continuing --- some might say, snail's paced --- OPR criminal investigation of Gonzales, we should note that the probe, as mentioned above, at least can be said to be moving forward in some fashion. Unfortunately, that's a far cry more than we can say for the job the Democrats are doing in bringing accountability via the U.S. Congress after a full year on the job.
Even the New York Times, in an editorial over the holiday, called on the lackluster Dems to get their act in gear, calling for "a full investigation into the misconduct that may have occurred," in the U.S. Attorney Purge scandal, adding that "it needs to be investigated vigorously and completely."
Then, unfortunately, they offer readers the bad news...
Two high-ranking Republicans, Arlen Specter (PA) and Chuck Grassley (IA), joined the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee today by voting in favor of holding both Karl Rove and former White House Chief of Staff, Joshua Bolten in Contempt of Congress.
The committee recommendation, which was passed by a 12-7 vote, now goes to Majority Leader Harry Reid who may, or may not, join House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in failing to hold a full floor vote on the recommendation. Pelosi has held a recommendation from the House Judiciary Committee, finding both Bolten and former White House attorney Harriet Miers in contempt, since July.
The White House, which we all know is well above the law, continued their bullying of the Democrats who are likely to shrink in fear at the intimidation.
"They should be fully aware of the futility of pressing ahead on this," AP reports White House spokesman Tony Fratto as saying. "It has long been understood that, in circumstances like these, that the constitutional prerogatives of the president would make it a futile and purely political act for Congress to refer contempt citations to U.S. attorneys."
"I vote for the contempt citations knowing that it's highly likely to be a meaningless act," Specter said. "In this context we have no alternative."
Paul Kiel at TPM Muck speculates: "Perhaps the Senate and House will team up and schedule both votes before the New Year, sending the White House contempt citations against Rove, Miers, and Bolten as a Christmas gift. Or maybe nothing will happen."
Take your time, kids. Those in contempt have said they won't allow you to carry out your duty in holding them in contempt anyway, so why make so much unpleasantness just before the holidays?
What's your guess on when/if Reid/Pelosi will schedule such votes?
As originally reported here yesterday, Democrats on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee invoked a rarely used rule to extend Committee hearings on the renewal of the Patriot Act.
Apparently, they inappropriately called witnesses to testify today from whom the Republicans did not wish to hear. And thus, in what can only be seen as an unprecedented tyrannical abuse of Majority power in the U.S. House of Representatives, Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), suddenly and without warning, gavelled the hearings to a close! Unilaterally, without debate, and in the middle of ongoing testimony!
The extraordinary video clip of Sensenbrenner's appalling display, was captured by C-SPAN. Take a look at the meltdown...
GOP House Judiciary Chair Uses Pinochet Tactics to Abruptly and Unilaterally Shut Down Hearing Into Abuses of the (Un)Patriot Act, Because He Was Afraid the Truth Would Come Out. America: "IT" is Happening Here. Democracy is Being Dismantled by GOP Thugs.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
June 10, 2005
BuzzFlash News Analysis
This morning, House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI) unilaterally and arbitrarily shut down committee hearings on the reauthorization of the Patriot Act without comment or issuing a statement. Sensenbrenner gaveled the committee hearings in the middle of witnesses testifying about human and civil rights abuses at Guantanamo Bay, racial profiling of individuals of Middle Eastern descent, prolonged detentions of Americans after September 11th and other abuses.
The suppression of free speech and testimony in the congressional committee in charge of protecting our civil liberties shows the Republican's power grab has no limits and no decency. The irony was not lost on anyone.
UPDATE: We must go on the air on Tony Trupiano's show in a just a few minutes, so this must be quick for now. (Link to that interview, with a lot more information on my conversation with a Democratic staffer who was in the room, is now below.)
To clarify some confusion on this matter, what had been referred to as "Democratic Hearings" today in some places, actually were not Democratic-only hearings (unlike the hearings that took place in January on Ohio Election Irregularities, and the recent Media Bias forum held by Conyers and other Dems).
Today's hearings were called under the archane provision of House Rule 11, which, we are told, allows the Minority to call for an additional day of hearings and to choose their own witnesses if they are unsatisfied with the hearings as held by the Majority.
The U.S. House Judiciary Democrats have been unable to do that previously on issues like Election 2004 and Media Bias because the Majority hadn't called a hearing at all on those matters, and thus, they were forced to call their own hearings.
We are told by a Democratic Staffer who The BRAD BLOG has just spoken to, and who was present at today's debacle, that the Majority has been quite disturbed by those previous hearings for some time, and, in fact, during the airing of Conyers' Media Bias forum (it ran as taped on C-SPAN at 8:30pm ET a few Saturdays ago), an email was sent to a Judiciary Committee staffer which said, in effect, "I'm watching your forum right now, hope you enjoyed it, it will be your last."
We'll have more detail after we're off the air, but the staffer just explained to us that the Minority was displeased with the witnesses called previously in the Commission hearings on renewal of the Patriot Act, and attempted to work with the Majority to call additional witnesses.
According to the staffer, they were told, "'You're gonna get your hearing, but it's gonna be 8:30am on Friday morning'...Never in the history of the Judiciary Committee have we been able to find a time when a hearing has been scheduled like that. The Congress was not in session today. We've never been able to find an instance when a hearing was called when Congress wasn't in session."
"The irony, when we're debating the Patriot Act," we were told, "of cutting off the debate and acting so anti-democratic when that's going on, is unbelievable!
"In the committee with sole jurisdiction over civil rights and civil liberties, for the chairman to say, I don't want to hear about guys who are getting their testicles shocked, it's breathtaking arrogance, it's testimony to abuse of power and how this place is now run. They've become everything they said they deplored when they took over the house in 1994."
Conversations with the House Democratic leadership on currently ongoing. The BRAD BLOG has learned that they are "very very concerned" about this matter, and that "the issue will be elevated."
"Ms. Pelosi is very concerned about this," said the staffer.