After blocking any serious investigation or impeachment hearings on crimes committed by President Bush, Speaker Nancy Pelosi finally addressed the allegations of presidential crimes on that forum of deep intellectual and legal thought: the television show The View. She agreed to answer a question from Joy Behar, who will have to suffice as a substitute for Peter Rodino. In a perfectly bizarre moment, Pelosi stated that there is simply no evidence of any crime committed by the President despite the findings of the International Red Cross, various international groups, and a legion of constitutional experts. It seems that America has now had its impeachment hearing before the august body of Whoopi Goldberg, Barbara Walters, Joy Bahar, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. If you feared that our democracy is de-evolving into a caricature of itself, just watch this video.
Here is what will suffice as the impeachment hearing of George Bush as the Speaker of the House of Representative is questioned by a comedian:
JOY BEHAR: You’ve ruled against impeaching George Bush and Dick Cheney, and now Kucinich is trying to pass that. Why do you insist on not impeaching these people, so that the world and America can really see the crimes that they’ve committed?
REP. NANCY PELOSI: Well, I think that it—I think it was important, when I became Speaker—and it’s, by the way, a very important position—President, Vice President, Speaker of the House—I saw it as my responsibility to try to bring a much divided country together to the extent that we could. I thought that impeachment would be divisive for the country.
In terms of what we wanted—set out to do, we wanted to raise the minimum wage, give the biggest increase in veterans benefits to veterans in the seventy-seven-year history, then pass research for stem cell research, all of that. This week, we’re going to pass equal pay for equal work. It has been a long time in coming—pay equity. We’re going to pass legislations for product safety, for toys that children put in their—there’s an agenda that you have to get done. You have to try to do it in a bipartisan way. The President has to sign it.
If somebody had a crime that the President had committed, that would be a different story.
BEHAR: Can they still do it after he is out?
BARBARA WALTERS: When, when we first- when I interviewed you last year, you had just begun, and you were going to clean up the mess, remember?
PELOSI: We did.
WALTERS: You, you look around this country, 75 percent of the country, forget George Bush, thinks that Congress is doing a lousy job.
HASSELBECK: I think it’s 91 percent now.
PELOSI: Well, I don’t disagree with that because largely it’s predicated on ending the war in Iraq. That’s the main question, and we were not successful. In our House of Representatives, I’m very proud of our members because they voted overwhelmingly over and over again to bring the war to an end, to bring the troops home safely and soon, send it to the Senate, and it hits a dead end. But in terms of that particular standard, I would say I disapprove as well. But we do, we passed some of the things I just mentioned, the energy bill. We worked in a bipartisan way, and ovation, agenda, we have to create jobs, expand health care, protect the American people, and educate our children. And you can’t do that if you’re trying to impeach the president at the same time, unless you have the goods that this president committed these crimes.
BEHAR: They did it to Clinton.
PELOSI: But they didn’t have the goods and it was wrong, and it was wrong, and it was wrong when they did that. Not that I- I have total disagreement with president on the war, the reason why we went in, which was based on a false premise. But that’s a different story than saying “can we try to get something accomplished for people,” have concerns about the economy and the rest.
Ironically, even this statement only came about because Pelosi was trying to sell her new book, “Know Your Power: A Message to America’s Daughters.” It appears that the message is that you should not let principle get in the way of politics when it comes to such issues as presidential crimes.
It is obviously a very frustrating and insulting moment for many. The International Red Cross warned the president in 2002 that his administration was committing a war crime for which prosecution was possible, click here. A federal judge (before Pelosi and the Democratic Congress barred further judicial review) declared that the domestic surveillance program was clearly illegal, click here. The Judiciary Committee has voted to hold Bush officials in criminal contempt and referred the matter for prosecution. Dozens of constitutional experts (including myself) have detailed impeachable offenses over the years. Yet, Speaker Pelosi insists that there is no evidence of crime while refusing to investigate that allegations.
What is particularly troubling is that the Speaker is now on the record as suggesting that torture and illegal surveillance are simply not crimes. That will be a useful fact when future president decides to engage in the same unlawful conduct.
Obviously, the Speaker is fully aware that respected organizations and experts have detailed crimes ordered by this President. Indeed, it took repeated interventions by Congress to keep courts from continuing to rule on such illegality — destroying any notion of plausible deniability that Democrats have no knowledge of alleged crimes. The Constitution foresees that, once credible allegations have been made (as here), the House would investigate (which Pelosi has blocked). Instead of the proceedings envisioned by the Framers, Speaker Pelosi has reduced the matter to a fun exchange with a comedian on a gossip and gripe show. In next week’s episode, Elisabeth Hasselbeck will work out the details of the Iraq appropriations budget with Pelosi.
The Speaker had to compete on the home page for the View with pictures of male strippers and a segment “Sheri Can’t Cook!,” click here. Now, that is a perfect forum for discussing one of the most important constitutional questions of our time.