The following is statement made by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) on House floor against impeachment:
Mr. Speaker, let me address the two issues that are on the minds of Americans today.
As to our action in Iraq, the president is doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons. That is why taking action at this time is supported by the Republican secretary of defense, by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the British prime minister--none of whom would risk the lives of American and British troops for the president’s political purposes.
Yesterday some extremists, blinded by partisanship, made statements impugning the president’s motives--statements which unintentionally gave aid and comfort to the enemy. I am pleased that some have apologized for, or have withdrawn, their unfounded insinuations.
As to these Articles of Impeachment, the partisan House majority is doing the wrong thing, at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons.
This House is doing the wrong thing because the majority is ignoring the precedent established in the Nixon impeachment hearings.
In 1974 the House Judiciary Committee concluded that while there were other reasons to impeach Richard Nixon, it could not impeach him for tax perjury--even though he fraudulently signed his 1969 tax return under penalty of perjury. It reached this conclusion based on the correct legal principle, which it established as precedent. That principle is: The impeachment of the president is not warranted except for misconduct dangerous to the system of government established by the Constitution.
Some have claimed that in 1974 the Judiciary Committee lacked sufficient factual evidence of Richard Nixon’s tax perjury--but this is not the case. I have reviewed the record of the 1974 hearings, and statements made in 1975, and described these in a five-page letter distributed to all members thismorning--and I will make that letter part of these remarks.
The reason the Judiciary Committee rejected the Tax Article of Impeachment against Richard Nixon was set forth in 1975 in the Georgetown Law Journal where Edward Mezvinsky, the very member of the Judiciary Committee who authored the Tax Article of Impeachment against Nixon, wrote:
“Most opponents of the tax article felt that willful tax evasion did not rise to the level of an impeachable offense requiring the removal of the president.”
The House majority has required us to address impeachment at the wrong time.
The next week is critical for American diplomacy to secure international support for our efforts against Iraq, so that we can get the landing rightsour troops need. The Republican majority insists that we deal with this matter now because they want to use raw political power to insure what they call a matter of conscience is determined by lame duck consciences.
Now I understand their partisan desire to achieve a political result before the new Congress takes over on Jan. 3. But what I don’t understand is this: Why didn’t we adjourn today and convene on Dec. 29--and thereby give our diplomacy the time it needs to line up allies?
And the House majority is doing all this for the wrong reasons.
The majority promised this matter would be decided on the merits, according to conscience. But we all know colleagues who have had one arm twisted to affect their vote on impeachment, and the other arm twisted to ensure their silenceabout the twisting of the first arm.
And while we are told this is a matter of conscience, many of us are denied the opportunity to express our conscience, because we are not being allowed to vote on a resolution of censure.
It is argued that we cannot constitutionally censure the president. But in 1834 a U.S. Senate censured President Jackson. That Senate was comprised of individuals who had been actively involved in the process of ratifying ourConstitution. The men and women who lived through the adoption of our Constitution never doubted for a moment that it was constitutional for either House to censure a president.
This majority ignores the standards of impeachable offenses developed in the 1974 Nixon impeachment hearings. This majority, through its timing of thesehearings, places partisanship over the need to use diplomacy to secure landing rights necessary to minimize American casualties. And this majority deniesmembers the right to vote for censure, as their consciences dictate.
Mr. Speaker, I would call this House a kangaroo court, but that would be an insult to marsupials everywhere.
I yield back the balance of my time.