The House of Representatives has blocked an effort by a Democratic lawmaker to impeach President Bush for his decisions and actions on Iraq, and other issues. Dan Robinson reports from Capitol Hill, Democratic leaders in Congress have opposed any effort to impeach, drawing criticism from some of the most vocal critics of the president.
For Dennis Kucinich, a two-time unsuccessful Democratic candidate for president from the state of Ohio, it's the second impeachment effort in as many years.
Previously, he introduced Articles of Impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney, and the document regarding President Bush echoed much of the criticism from that effort.
The 35-point resolution on President Bush was read twice into the House record, the first time by Kucinich himself. "Articles of Impeachment exhibited by the House of Representatives of the United States of America, in the name of itself and of the people of the United States of America, in maintenance and support of impeachment against President George W. Bush for high crimes and misdemeanors," he said.
In his resolution, Kucinich stated that President Bush and Vice President Cheney conducted a secret propaganda campaign to manufacture a false cause for the war in Iraq, and violated U.S. and international law in ordering an invasion.
Kucinich referred to actions of a White House advisory group, comprising key advisers that his resolution asserts were closely involved in shaping the case for war based on intelligence about weapons of mass destruction that later proved inaccurate:
"The White House Iraq Group (WHIG), a White House task forced formed in August 2002 to market an invasion of Iraq to the American people," he said.
Kucinich also accused the president of failing to properly equip U.S. troops, illegally detaining without charge U.S. citizens and "foreign captives", and using signing statements when approving bills passed by Congress, in what the Ohio Democrat asserts is a violation of U.S. laws. Other criticisms involved the refusal of White House officials to comply with congressional subpoenas, and the U.S. government's poor response to Hurricane Katrina.
The resolution was brought to the floor Monday under privileged status, requiring the chamber to act on it in within two days.
The House voted 251 to 166 to send it to the House Judiciary Committee, effectively killing the effort because it is unlikely to undergo hearings before President Bush leaves office.
Since taking control of Congress, Democratic leaders, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in particular, have declined to support impeachment saying it would only be divisive and interfere with their agenda, a position reiterated Wednesday by a Pelosi spokesman.
Democratic leaders faced sharp criticism for this from the far left of their party, where they are also faulted for not taking a stronger stand on an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
President Bush, and the White House have consistently denied wrongdoing regarding Iraq, although the president has acknowledged that intelligence used to justify the war was faulty.
However, Kucinich's impeachment effort came a week after a report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concluding that the president, vice president and other officials knowingly exaggerated available intelligence and over-stated the Iraqi threat in building their case for war.
Only two presidents have ever been impeached by the House of Representatives. Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998 on charges that included perjury and obstruction of justice, but was acquitted by the Senate. Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868, but also acquitted by the Senate. No U.S. vice president has ever been impeached.