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Tilting at Windmills

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June 28, 2007

FEIN: IMPEACH CHENEY....As part of the Washington Post's multi-part profile on Dick Cheney, Bruce Fein, an associate deputy attorney general under President Ronald Reagan, accused the Vice President of having made "monarchical claims" on power.

In an interesting Slate piece, Fein, a self-identified conservative, follows up on these concerns and explicitly calls for Cheney's impeachment.

In grasping and exercising presidential powers, Cheney has dulled political accountability and concocted theories for evading the law and Constitution that would have embarrassed King George III. The most recent invention we know of is the vice president's insistence that an executive order governing the handling of classified information in the executive branch does not reach his office because he also serves as president of the Senate. In other words, the vice president is a unique legislative-executive creature standing above and beyond the Constitution.

The House judiciary committee should commence an impeachment inquiry. As Alexander Hamilton advised in the Federalist Papers, an impeachable offense is a political crime against the nation. Cheney's multiple crimes against the Constitution clearly qualify.

Fein presents quite an indictment, describing multiple "crimes," including Cheney's role in creating military commissions, initiating torture policies, authorizing legally-dubious "signing statements," engineering the warrantless domestic surveillance program, and generally usurping the power of the presidency outside the standards of the 25th Amendment.

There's nothing wrong with Fein's argument, of course, but I'm not going to get my hopes up. Dems have a busy policy agenda, and this isn't on it. What's more, even if Dems went for Cheney impeachment, unless there are 67 votes in the Senate to remove the VP from office, Cheney, alas, isn't going anywhere, scuttlebutt from Sally Quinn notwithstanding.

That said, defunding Cheney's office is another matter entirely. Debate begins on Rahm Emaneul's amendment in about 20 minutes.

Steve Benen 11:12 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (74)

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Comments

I've had an "Impeach Bush" bumper sticker on my car for the past year, though it's more a moral statement than a strategic one. Realizing impeachment won't succeed at this point, I think the defunding gambit looks like a great gimmick. I wish Rahm Emmanuel luck with it.

Posted by: jimBOB on June 28, 2007 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

I actually think our Vice President has an excellent point and I am thoroughly convinced that his office is definitely part of BOTH the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch.

Ergo, it follows that his office is subject to the laws and regulations that govern BOTH the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch.

P.S. If anyone could make an argument that the VP's office also belongs to the Judiciary Branch, I suspect I'd be willing to acknowledge that too.
___________________________

Posted by: Aris on June 28, 2007 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Did Fein really leave Bush out of his indictment?

If we haven't conceded this administrations strange perversions of the Constitution, then Cheney committed his crimes under Bush's protection and authority.

If we're serious about returning to constitutional government, they must be impeached together.

Posted by: clem on June 28, 2007 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Fein: In grasping and exercising presidential powers, Cheney has dulled political accountability and concocted theories for evading the law and Constitution that would have embarrassed King George III.


does this mean we've turned the corner....

or is this the last throes?


Posted by: mr. irony on June 28, 2007 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

Aaron Burr finally has a rival.

Posted by: Brojo on June 28, 2007 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

The Repukeliscum ideal method for obtaining health care is to run a fundraiser at a bar. They don't want to fund it in a normal way, and that's what happens all the time.

If this is the best way for health care, it's the best way for funding of the VP office, the Fourth Branch of Government.

Posted by: POed Lib on June 28, 2007 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

If we're serious about returning to constitutional government, they must be impeached together.

Yes, but Cheney first. Just to be safe.

Posted by: thersites on June 28, 2007 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Since most laws and constitutional provisions don't seem to apply to Cheney, perhaps the constitutional prohibition against Bills of Attainder also doesn't apply. Congress could pass a law declaring Cheney to be a criminal and remove him from office by majority vote of both houses.

Posted by: Colin on June 28, 2007 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

He's only a 'self-identified' conservative.

Real conservatives are Führertreu!

Sailing the Seas Depends on the Helmsman!

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on June 28, 2007 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

De-funding his office is absurd. The President would simply assign any money he needs from elsewhere.

Posted by: cld on June 28, 2007 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

"Authorizing legally bubious signing statements"? Who signed those "legally dubious" signing statements? It wasn't Dick Cheney! So is Fein also calling for Dumbya's impeachment? One would think so.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on June 28, 2007 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a bit embarrassed to be promulgating it, but a friend reports a bumper sticker that reads "Impeach Bush! Torture Cheney!" Impractical, but I can relate to the sentiment.

Posted by: Roberta on June 28, 2007 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, I like your stuff a lot but I think you're missing a big point. Of course the Dems in Congress aren't going to go out on a limb. That means only that we have to create a grass-roots, net-coordinated movement to PUT this on their agenda. If it's right on its merits, which it is, at some point we have to stop with the inside-baseball, how-will-this-play politics and just go forward. Cheney has done a lot of damage to the country and will do much more in the time he has left. Get him out.

Posted by: Jim M on June 28, 2007 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Well you can count me among those that think Cheney's executive-legislative claims are dubious.

That said, the central flaw in Fein's piece is that all that Cheney has done has been in support of, and ultimately with the approval of, the president. It is true that Cheney has significantly expanded the traditional roles of the VP (which were essentially nothing), but he has expanded them in service of the president, who ultimately is the one responsible for the decisions that are made. Impeaching Cheney for those decisions is therefore absurd.

What Cheney has done is expand the vice-presidency into the areas typically handled by the chief of staff. He did so because Bush wanted him to. Just because the VP handled, to use one example, the detainee policy development rather than the chief of staff handling it, doesn't change the fact that at the end of the day, the president is the one putting his name on the paper. When Fein writes "The vice president asserted" or "initiated" or "maintained" or "engineered" various things, he seems to believe that this was approved and implemented in a vacuum, without presidential approval. Even the Post's hit-pieces on Cheney make clear this is not the case. Thus Fein's conclusion that "President Bush has ceded vast domains of his powers to Vice President Cheney by mutual understanding that circumvents the 25th Amendment" is not sustainable. This is why the impeach Cheney stuff is so silly. And why it will never lead anywhere.

Posted by: Hacksaw on June 28, 2007 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Dems have a busy policy agenda, and this isn't on it.

Really? What the fuck on their busy policy agenda is so important that an assault on the Constitution of the United States and on our civil liberties isn't enough to make the list? I'd really like to know.

Posted by: Stefan on June 28, 2007 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

My congressional rep is on the committee that would vote for the defunding and both my husband and I have e-mailed him to let him know that if Vice President Cheney thinks he's not part of the Executive Branch, he shouldn't be funded by it.

Of course, now Cheney is backpedalling and saying he really is part of the Executive branch. Anyone else think that his lawyers finally realized that if Cheney is part of Congress, Congress has more control over him than they do if he's in another branch?

Posted by: Mnemosyne on June 28, 2007 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Aaron Burr finally has a rival."

Except Aaron Burr had better aim.

Posted by: fostert on June 28, 2007 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Notice that Fein's piece works equally well if you substitute the word "Bush" for "Cheney" and remove the word "vice".

aa

Posted by: aaron aardvark on June 28, 2007 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with Hacksaw. The VP has no powers. Everything Cheney did was in effect a recommendation to Bush, which Bush then authorized. If anyone should be impeached, it's the President.

I think this battle over Cheney's abuse of powers and executive privilege are good for the country. This issue distracts the Dems from interfering with the good things our military is now accomplishing in Iraq.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 28, 2007 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Really? What the fuck on their busy policy agenda is so important that an assault on the Constitution of the United States and on our civil liberties isn't enough to make the list? I'd really like to know.

they have a full schedule of blowing smoke up our asses in order to get donations and votes.

Posted by: spacebaby on June 28, 2007 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Can we just call him "King George IV" now?

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on June 28, 2007 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Clem, Hacksaw are right: this is weak, and myth-spinning about Bush to boot. As I am blogging:

Bush made his choice in the summer of 2000, when he accepted at face value — at least for public consumption — Cheney’s story that he, as head of the vice presidential search committee, couldn’t find a better vice presidential nominee than Dick Cheney.

To allow “The Decider” a free pass, on grounds of stupidity, or whatever, as “The Unwitting Abdicator” just doesn’t wash.

To hark back to 1776, it would be to give King George III a pass and blame all of London’s mistakes on Bute or another advisor.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on June 28, 2007 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Everything Cheney did was in effect a recommendation to Bush,M/i>

In effect, maybe. In reality, everything Cheney did was an order to Bush. And the ex-drunk, ex-cokehead sat there and took it.

Posted by: tomeck on June 28, 2007 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

tomeck,

I know Bush critics love to diminish him as you did, but even the Post's articles make clear that it simply is not accurate to portray Bush as Cheney's puppet. Why folks continue to assume he is is a mystery to me, since willingly underestimating your political opponents is rarely a good idea.

Posted by: Hacksaw on June 28, 2007 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

'There's nothing wrong with Fein's argument, of course, but I'm not going to get my hopes up. Dems have a busy policy agenda, and this isn't on it. What's more, even if Dems went for Cheney impeachment, unless there are 67 votes in the Senate to remove the VP from office, Cheney, alas, isn't going anywhere, scuttlebutt from Sally Quinn notwithstanding.'

This sort of wimpy nonsensical talk illustrates the stark difference between the Publican and Democratic Party. Was the GOP worried about having "67 votes" or a "busy policy agenda" when they impeached Bill Clinton in 1998??? And that was for lying about his sex life, for f*cks sake!!!

Richard Bruce Cheney is a deeply criminal man who has fabricated evidence to lead this great country into a war it should have never fought, secretly wiretapped Americans, ordered the torture of prisoners in violation of the Geneva Conventions and every standard of human decency, withheld information about his secret energy task force and thumbed his nose at Congressional oversight. And you are worried about a "busy policy agenda". Jesus H. Christ, I am voting Green in the next election.

Democrats don't deserve to govern this country, if they don't have any more sense or balls than this.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 28, 2007 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, impeachment only requires 51 votes in the Senate, not 67.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 28, 2007 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

P.S. If anyone could make an argument that the VP's office also belongs to the Judiciary Branch, I suspect I'd be willing to acknowledge that too.
Posted by: Aris on June 28, 2007 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

The President appoints judges, the President appoints the VP, therefore, the VP is a judge. Q.E.D.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on June 28, 2007 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

If the House began impeachment proceedings against Cheney, the news would be all impeachment, all the time. What might happen then, as the Articles of Impeachment were published and heard in the House of Representatives is anyone's guess.

As the public learns of the evidence against Cheney, I believe it would become difficult for all but the most corrupt Republicans in Congress to rebut the charges. And unlike the attempted impeachment of Clinton, where the public opinion polls showed general disdain for what the Republicans did, with Cheney the effect of an impeachment hearing would likely have the opposite effect. The public's already historically low opinion of Cheney would sink further.

In short, once the move to impeach were begun, in Cheney's case, it would be difficult to stop. And in the Senate, unless the Republicans were willing to face defeat that would return Democrats to a veto-proof majority, it's likely, I think, that they'd find the seventeen (or more) Republican votes needed to remove Cheney. (Odds are, of course, that he'd be forced, like his role model, Nixon, to resign before a Senate conviction was necessary.)

Posted by: NealB on June 28, 2007 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Bush made his choice in the summer of 2000, when he accepted at face value — at least for public consumption — Cheney’s story that he, as head of the vice presidential search committee, couldn’t find a better vice presidential nominee than Dick Cheney.

That story wasn't for Bush's benefit. That story was the most they contemptuously bothered, in their rush to start the raping and pillaging, to assemble for the electorate.

Cheney doesn't "order" Bush. Cheney carries out his role exactly as the entire circle of plutocrats has planned. As VP, operating largely out of the sunlight and acting as a lightning rod for a lot of administration criticism, he's done a hell of a lot of damage and scored a whole lot of successes for the group.

He does things in a way that Bush can't--both because of Bush's position as president and because Bush doesn't have the brains or skill to pull these things off. And he's the perfect VP for Bush's tender, I'm-the-Decider ego. Cheney's not going to run for president. Cheney's not an also-ran who got put on the ticket to appease another GOP candidate's supporters. Cheney's there because he knows how to consolidate power and wealth behind the scenes and he damn well loves doing it behind the scenes. He'll never challenge Bush for front-and-center status. He loves operating in the shadows and he has no problem bearing the brunt of public disapprobation.

But Bush entirely approves of what Cheney's done and is doing. I wish people would stop thinking that just because Bush is a fucking idiot, he's not part of the overall plan.

They have identical goals and objectives. They just have different roles in the pursuit of those ends.

Posted by: shortstop on June 28, 2007 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, impeachment only requires 51 votes in the Senate, not 67.

No, impeachment requires 51 votes in the House. The Senate then tries the impeachment, and it requires 67 votes to convict.

Posted by: shortstop on June 28, 2007 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, impeachment only requires 51 votes in the Senate, not 67.

Wrong.

The Senate Shalll have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the members present.
U.S. Const. Art. 1, sec. 3, para. 6

Posted by: DJ on June 28, 2007 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

If Lord Nelson was a Democrat or a Democratic pundit, he would be so paralysed at the thought of defeat that the outcome of the Battle of Trafalgar would have been just the opposite.

Posted by: gregor on June 28, 2007 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Clem and Hacksaw in a narrow sense, but politically it's more feasible to start with Cheney, since the case against Bush will not be politically strong enough (that is, Clem and Hacksaw's point won't be obvious enough) until the evidence is brought out in the course of the process against Cheney. Besides, if you go after Bush first you end up with Cheney in the White House.

Posted by: Jim M on June 28, 2007 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Fein notes that: "Section 3 of the 25th Amendment provides a method for the president to yield his office to the vice president, when 'he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.'"

I don't know about you guys, but in my opinion George Bush is definitely "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office."

Posted by: AndrewBW on June 28, 2007 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

If Cheney is impeached, do you know who gets to preside over that proceeding in the Senate? It would be the president of the Senate -- Dick Cheney. I'd pay good money to see that kind of farce.

Posted by: Shelby on June 28, 2007 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

What's more, even if Dems went for Cheney impeachment, unless there are 67 votes in the Senate to remove the VP from office, Cheney, alas, isn't going anywhere, scuttlebutt from Sally Quinn notwithstanding.

Yeah, and? We couldn't remove him from office, but we could certainly impeach, and the impeachment trial itself would be an incredible humiliation for him and his party and a permanent black mark next to his name in the history books. It would also set the precedent that the type of illegal and un-American power grab he's engaged in is unacceptable and will be punished.

Not only that, but it would also provide a forum in which his crimes and misdemeanors could be dragged out into the light of day. If we don't impeach him, we'll never find out half the shit he's been up to.

Posted by: Stefan on June 28, 2007 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

DJ, it helps, when you cite a text, that you actually read and understand what it says:

The Senate Shalll have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the members present.

"Conviction" requires two-thirds of the members. "Impeachment," however, which is not the same thing as conviction, only requires a majority. First you are impeached, and then if the Senate finds the evidence is sufficient you are convicted.

Think of it in criminal law terms: the impeachment is the equivalent of the indictment, not of the criminal conviction.


Posted by: Stefan on June 28, 2007 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Impeaching Cheney would be far easier to achieve than impeaching Bush, and not only because the majority of evidence is landing in Cheney's lap. As Neal B notes, there is almost no public support for Cheney. Even if there were, the prospect of impeaching a veep just doesn't inspire the same public reluctance as impeaching a prez (not that that stopped the Clinton Derangement Syndrome sufferers).

A Cheney impeachment also gives Congressional and foot soldier Repubs a face-saving out: the meme will be that Cheney "betrayed" Bush or some such nonsense.

I just argued vehemently for Cheney not being the solitary puppetmaster in the Bush regime. Nevertheless, bouncing the bastard would certainly have the effect of cutting the legs out from under Bush and humiliating the entire administration. The president's mental/emotional status is already so shaky at the moment that a Cheney impeachment might spark the glorious public Bush meltdown that seems imminent. Just keep him away from the football while it's going on, please.

Posted by: shortstop on June 28, 2007 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Really? What the fuck on their busy policy agenda is so important that an assault on the Constitution of the United States and on our civil liberties isn't enough to make the list? I'd really like to know.

They will get right on it as soon as they pass that proclamation for a national Salt Water Taffy day.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on June 28, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

"ex-liberal" wrote: I'm with Hacks

You don't say.

Everything Cheney did was in effect a recommendation to Bush, which Bush then authorized.

Evidence for the assertion that the President authorized Cheney's actions...?

If anyone should be impeached, it's the President.

Glad you agree the President deserves impeachment, but you're wrong as usual -- Cheney does as well for his actions, whether the President authorized them as not. "I was only following orders" went out as a defense at Nuremberg.

This issue distracts the Dems from interfering with the good things our military is now accomplishing in Iraq.

You really do get a sick thrill from making the most spurious, insultingly dishonest arguments you can think of, don't you, "ex-liberal"?

That said, it's okay; Republicans like Dick Lugar seem to be willing to take up the slack.

Posted by: Gregory on June 28, 2007 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

"Conviction" requires two-thirds of the members. "Impeachment," however, which is not the same thing as conviction, only requires a majority. First you are impeached, and then if the Senate finds the evidence is sufficient you are convicted.

And again, impeachment is the purview of the House; trying an impeachment is the job of the Senate.

Posted by: shortstop on June 28, 2007 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Not only that, but it would also provide a forum in which his crimes and misdemeanors could be dragged out into the light of day.

Not only that, but it'd put Republican Senators in the position of condoning -- and they will -- the Bush Administration's tyrannical mindset.

Posted by: Gregory on June 28, 2007 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

If Cheney is impeached, do you know who gets to preside over that proceeding in the Senate? It would be the president of the Senate -- Dick Cheney. I'd pay good money to see that kind of farce.

Who wouldn't?! But seriously, what is the procedure in such a case? Who would preside?

Posted by: shortstop on June 28, 2007 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal:This issue distracts the Dems from interfering with the good things our military is now accomplishing in Iraq.

You're kidding, right?

Bomb kills 22 at Baghdad bus station

The bombing happened near this area. Salman Pak and its surrounding area has been the focus of new U.S. military operations to oust suspected al-Qaida fighters from the Baghdad's outskirts. American forces launched a drive into Salman Pak and neighboring Arab Jabour two weeks ago.

At the time, ground forces commander Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno said U.S. troops were heading into those areas in force for the first time in three years.

So our troops have been playing whack-a-mole here for two weeks, with decidely mixed results, in order to buy time for the Iraqis to come up with political solutions.

Juan Cole Informed Comment

"Thamer Ghadban, the petroleum professional who advises Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on this issue, says that the draft petroleum bill will be put before parliament in two months! In other words, the June deadline for the 4 'benchmarks' set by Bush won't be met. And two months is, of course, optimistic. Ghadban says that contracts concluded during the Saddam period with Indonesia, India, China and other countries will have to be adjusted in light of the new law."

That's two months before the bill will be put before parliament. How long do you think it will take to get the parliament to vote approval of it?

Check out all the other news documented at Cole's blog and in the AP article.

Feel free to provide links to the good news you've found.

Posted by: cowalker on June 28, 2007 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK
........Everything Cheney did was in effect a recommendation to Bush ....ex-lax at 12:35 PM
All prosecutors rightly go after the low-hanging fruit in conspiracy cases. It this anti-Constitutional conspiracy, Cheney is the first in line due to his blatant mishandling of classified documents. Later, Bush can be nailed for his criminal violations of the wire tapping law.
....I know Bush critics love to diminish him as you did....Hack at 12:57 PM
No one diminishes Bush as much as Bush. Ceding so much power to his vice-prez shows that he admits his inadequacy.
would be the president of the Senate -- Dick Cheney Shelby on June 28, 2007 at 1:17 PM
The presiding officer would be the Chief Justice, still farcical, perhaps not as much as Rehnquist in his Mikado robe, but still. Posted by: Mike on June 28, 2007 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Don't you find all this talk about overthrowing our leaders in a time of war the least bit treasonus, Kevin?

Not smart, boy, but as for me I can't wait until your goosestepped out of your house (do you shrivle up in the light of day) and off to prison.

Pass the popcorn!

Posted by: egbert on June 28, 2007 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

cowalker: You're kidding, right? (about the good things our military is now accomplishing in Iraq.)

Bomb kills 22 at Baghdad bus station

Yes, horrible attacks are continuing, but the frequency of attacks has been cut in half since the surge began. More and more Sunni tribal leaders are cooperating with the US and the Iraqi government to fight al Qaeda.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 28, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

The Impeachment Process in a Nutshell

1.

The House Judiciary Committee deliberates over whether to initiate an impeachment inquiry.
2.

The Judiciary Committee adopts a resolution seeking authority from the entire House of Representatives to conduct an inquiry. Before voting, the House debates and considers the resolution. Approval requires a majority vote.
3.

The Judiciary Committee conducts an impeachment inquiry, possibly through public hearings. At the conclusion of the inquiry, articles of impeachment are prepared. They must be approved by a majority of the Committee.
4.

The House of Representatives considers and debates the articles of impeachment. A majority vote of the entire House is required to pass each article. Once an article is approved, the President is, technically speaking, "impeached" -- that is subject to trial in the Senate.
5.

The Senate holds trial on the articles of impeachment approved by the House. The Senate sits as a jury while the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides over the trial.
6.

At the conclusion of the trial, the Senate votes on whether to remove the President from office. A two-thirds vote by the Members present in the Senate is required for removal.
7.

If the President is removed, the Vice-President assumes the Presidency under the chain of succession established by Amendment XXV.

here

Posted by: TJM on June 28, 2007 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop:
But seriously, what is the procedure in such a case? Who would preside?

Mike:
The presiding officer would be the Chief Justice

No, it really would be Cheney. Article I, Section 3 of the US Constitution:

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall choose their other officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the office of President of the United States.

The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments. When sitting for that purpose, they shall be on oath or affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds of the members present.

The president of the Senate presides over activities there. The Vice President of the US is the president of the Senate. The only time when the Chief Justice presides over an impeachment is when it's of the President -- NOT the vice president.

Thus, Cheney would effectively be the judge at his own trial. THAT'S why I'd pay to see it.

Posted by: Shelby on June 28, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Shelby: So no constitutional provision has been made for someone else to preside if the vice president is impeached. Hmmmm.

Posted by: shortstop on June 28, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Ethics would require that Cheney recuse himself from presiding at his own Senate trial.

(LMAO as I wrote that.)

Posted by: Disputo on June 28, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

(LMAO as I wrote that.)

I know; good one.

Anyway, interesting question, but irrelevant. David Addington has just released a statement explaining that Cheney's office is not subject to D.C. traffic ordinances, the laws of physics or the U.S. constitution.

Posted by: shortstop on June 28, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

The veep sits as president of the senate to break tie votes. There is no such thing as a tie vote for an impeachment conviction. The only people who vote are the Senators. Even if Cheney did preside, it wouldn't matter.

Posted by: TJM on June 28, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

If we're serious about returning to constitutional government, they must be impeached together.

Yes, but Cheney first. Just to be safe.

Why? Do you not think Cheney is running things now?

Posted by: Thumb on June 28, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

TJM:

The VP not only breaks ties, he "presides". The Senate decides what that means, but traditionally it involves having a fair degree of control over process and resolving various procedural disputes. It doesn't mean he can determine the outcome but he plays a significant role -- as did Rehnquist at Clinton's impeachment trial.

Posted by: Shelby on June 28, 2007 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

shelby -

Read TJM's post above. The Chief Justice presides at Senate trials.

Maybe you're too young to remember Clinton's Senate trial; tat was Chief Justice Rehquist presiding not VP Gore.


.

Posted by: spork_incident on June 28, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Even if Cheney did preside, it wouldn't matter.

Well, it would from a general entertainment perspective. I doubt that Richard Bruce Cheney being forced to play rules-of-order man during his own trial would be able to summon the grace with which Al Gore presided over the joint session ratifying the theft of the election against him.

Posted by: shortstop on June 28, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop: Well, it would from a general entertainment perspective.
C-SPAN ratings would go through the roof!

Posted by: TJM on June 28, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney is a sociopath. He makes Hannibal Lector appear as a compassionate conservative. Though I doubt it was their intension, the recent WP series demonstrated that he is totally lacking in conscience.

In my opinion, he should be impeached and tried on the crimes of murder, treason, and crimes against humanity (in this case Americans.)

What’s my point? Open your minds a little and then watch the following interview with Dr. Steven Jones, professor of physics at BYU (as real hot bed of left wing crazies.)

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2842384983834100001

Posted by: El Pollo on June 28, 2007 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe somebody else has made the point, but don't you need 67 votes to overturn Bush's veto of any attempt to defund the VP, the same number as would be necessary impeach under your scenario (but contradicted by at least one commenter as being 51 votes), Kevin?

And even before that, don't you have to have 60 votes to close off debate and vote on the defunding bill? Where exactly are those 60 votes coming from?

Thus, even if you are right about the number of votes necessary to impeach, since it is no more than necessary to defund the VP why go for half measures?

It appears to me that the easier path is impeachment, which would also have the added benefit of showing Cheney's dirty laundry all over the nation during an election cycle and put Republicans in the position of defending someone even more unpopular than Bush during the same election cycle.

Posted by: anonymous on June 28, 2007 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Spork:

If you're going to be rude, you should try being right. Read above where I explained that, per the US Constitution, the Chief Justice presides ONLY over impeachment trials of the President -- NOT the VP.

Posted by: Shelby on June 28, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal:Yes, horrible attacks are continuing, but the frequency of attacks has been cut in half since the surge began. More and more Sunni tribal leaders are cooperating with the US and the Iraqi government to fight al Qaeda.

The surge wasn't even meant to defeat al Qaeda.
In Bush's own words

The most urgent priority for success in Iraq is security, especially in Baghdad. Eighty percent of Iraq's sectarian violence occurs within 30 miles of the capital. This violence is splitting Baghdad into sectarian enclaves, and shaking the confidence of all Iraqis. Only Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people. And their government has put forward an aggressive plan to do it.

This is a strong commitment. But for it to succeed, our commanders say the Iraqis will need our help. So America will change our strategy to help the Iraqis carry out their campaign to put down sectarian violence and bring security to the people of Baghdad. This will require increasing American force levels. So I've committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq. The vast majority of them -- five brigades -- will be deployed to Baghdad. These troops will work alongside Iraqi units and be embedded in their formations. Our troops will have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs.

If the Iraqi government were functioning well, it could defeat al Qaeda without our help. If we kick al Qaeda out of Iraq but it continues as a failed state, al Qaeda will be free to sneak back at their leisure after we have left. That is why the only meaningful measure of progress is the strength and legitimacy of the Iraqi government.

We're supposed to be tamping down sectarian violence so the Iraqi government can make the political decisions needed to get control of the country. We're losing more soldiers than ever and have only managed to reduce the number of attacks. (Maybe we've reduced the number of attacks. Whose statistics are you referencing?) Meanwhile there has been NO PROGRESS on the side of the Iraqi government. But please, link to optimistic news on that front if you have found some.

Posted by: cowalker on June 28, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: Yes, horrible attacks are continuing, but the frequency of attacks has been cut in half since the surge began.

No different from what we've seen before.

The insurgents and al Qaida temporarily retreat or move to less protected targets in other areas outside the current surge zone and then move right back after the surge zone clear of US troops.

Since the surge cannot be maintained forever and has no effect on overall insurgent and al Qaida strength because of its limited geographical reach, it is just postponing the inevitable.

As has been repeatedly proffered by military experts not attached to Bush's ass with their lips (as Petraeus is), the subjugation of the Iraqi insurgency and al Qaida would require a sustained effort by a total troop complement of over 350,000 in order to prevent the insurgents and al Qaida from resting/hiding/resupplying in areas that the current level of US forces cannot control.

In other words, you lie about the meaning of any local improvements.


More and more Sunni tribal leaders are cooperating with the US and the Iraqi government to fight al Qaeda.

And have pretty much stated on the record that they will turn against the Americans as soon as al Qaida is gone.

The bottom line is that Iraqi patriots aren't any more likely to give up their patriotism than American patriots would and aren't any more likely to simply sit back and allow the US to occupy their country any more than Americans would allow the Russians, the Chinese, or Castro to occupy any portion of US soil, no matter how many times they told us they were doing it for our own good.

You are an unpatriotic, lying piece of filth who would rather engage in partisan ass-covering than see our troops protected from Cheney's megalomania and Bush's incompetence and perfidy.

Posted by: anonymous on June 28, 2007 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Impeach Cheney? ROFLMAO!!

So let's see, you guys have called for the impeachment of Bush, Gonzales, and a number of Supreme Court justices that you disagree with.

It is always so refreshing to read the commentary of the so called "realty based" political community.

Do you guys still believe in the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny as well? LOL

Posted by: Chicounsel on June 28, 2007 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

It appears that 67 votes would be necessary to overturn a veto of the defunding bill.

On the other hand, 67 Senate votes would not necessarily be needed to convict Cheney because the Constitution only requires 2/3 of the members present to convict.

And it appears that only a mere majority of the House is needed to impeach.

Thus, it is quite possible that impeachment would be the easier path, at least in terms of necessary votes.

Even if the cloture rule applies a trial of impeachment, you still only need 60 votes to overcome that obstacle.

Defunding the VP, however, requires 67 votes in the Senate and a 2/3 majority in the House - far more difficult than the impeachment route.

Posted by: anonymous on June 28, 2007 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Chicounsel: Do you guys still believe in the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny as well?

What a hoot from a guy that supports an administration in which the president believes the surge is working and the VP believes he's a fourth branch of government.

Posted by: anonymous on June 28, 2007 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK
.... the frequency of attacks has been cut in half since the surge began. More and more Sunni tribal leaders are cooperating.... ex-lax at 2:27 PM
Would those be these Sunni leaders? Would that number of attacks be represented by an flat number overall?

...The aggregate level of violence in Iraq remained relatively unchanged during this reporting period. Violence has decreased in the Baghdad security districts and Anbar, but has increased in most provinces, particularly in the outlying areas of Baghdad Province and Diyala and Ninewa Provinces. Since January 2007, Coalition reported murders in Baghdad proper have decreased by 51% as militia activity was disrupted by security operations. Throughout Iraq, the total number of attacks on Coalition forces, the ISF, and Iraqi civilians increased by 2% in the February through May reporting period compared with the previous quarter...

It's difficult to spin failure. You're failing even that.

Posted by: Mike on June 28, 2007 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK
It appears that 67 votes would be necessary to overturn a veto of the defunding bill.

Really, that's only if you want a showing "defunding bill" (or, more showy but taking the same number of votes, a deauthorization bill that removes the authority for appropriations.)

To defund the Office of the Vice President, all you have to do is not pass any bill containing funding for that office any more. That doesn't take any kind of supermajority. You can do it with a majority in either house, with no votes in the other house.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 28, 2007 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

I have admired Bruce Fein. He said this in '06 about the signing statements nightmare:
"The American system of government relies upon the leaders of each branch ''to exercise some self-restraint." But Bush has declared himself the sole judge of his own powers, he said, and then ruled for himself every time.

''This is an attempt by the president to have the final word on his own constitutional powers, which eliminates the checks and balances that keep the country a democracy," Fein said. ''There is no way for an independent judiciary to check his assertions of power, and Congress isn't doing it, either. So this is moving us toward an unlimited executive power."


Posted by: consider wisely always on June 28, 2007 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, horrible attacks are continuing, but the frequency of attacks has been cut in half since the surge began.

No, according to the Pentagon both violence and casualties have risen:

Violence in Iraq, as measured by casualties among troops and civilians, has edged higher despite the U.S.-led security push in Baghdad, the Pentagon told Congress on Wednesday.

The required quarterly report, which surveyed violence from Feb. 10 to May 7, found that the average number of Iraqi civilians killed or wounded each day was more than 100, nearly double the daily toll from the same period one year ago. The number of daily U.S. casualties was about 25, slightly higher than a year ago.

The average weekly number of attacks across Iraq for the reporting period surpassed 1,000, compared to about 600 weekly attacks for the same period one year ago.

Why would you spread such an egregious lie?

Am I'm curious, will you be owning up to it?

And then after you own up to it will you accept consequences for it, say -- not posting here anymore because nothing you say has ever been trustworthy?

Posted by: trex on June 28, 2007 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK


ex-liberal has no response to our request for sources on attack statistics in Iraq, or to our request for links to truly good news out of Iraq. I want to hear that all Iraqis have recognized their mutual interests and agreed to work together in this time of national emergency, because then our soldiers can come home.

Please, I want a link. Please?

Posted by: cowalker on June 29, 2007 at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK

shortstop/Mike

It would be funny if the framers thought the Vice Presidency to be so insubstantial a position that the possibility of one committing an impeachable offense never crossed their collective mind. It would also kind of give credence to those who say that the ultimate responsibility rests on the president. If the President were a remotely responsible individual, Cheney would be under observation by now.

Posted by: BC on June 29, 2007 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Pelosi, Obama and my Colorado senators have all annouced that they have no intention of seeking impeachment. Who are the senators support impeachment?

Obama says that impeachment is a device should be saved for only the most reprehensible of conduct. What qualifies? 3,5000+ dead soldiers fighting a war based upon lies? Cheney's war profiteering (3,200% increase in the value of his Halliburton stock options since 2001)? TORTURE? Destruction of the environment and entire species? Criminalizing free speach and warrantless spying on law-abiding Americans?

Just what Obama?

Posted by: CO Girl on June 29, 2007 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Sammon on February 27, 2010 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK
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