Inslee leading effort to impeach Gonzales
At issue, he says, is whether Gonzales lied to Congress in testimony about secret government wiretapping and about the firing of nine U.S. attorneys.
Seattle Times Washington bureau
Impeachment resolutionThe text: Resolved, that the Committee on the Judiciary shall investigate fully whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to impeach Alberto R. Gonzales, Attorney General of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors.
The sponsor: Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island
The co-sponsors: Reps. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif.; Michael A. Arcuri, D-N.Y.; Ben Chandler, D-Ky.; Dennis Moore, D-Kan., and Bruce Braley, D-Iowa.
WASHINGTON — Rep. Jay Inslee will introduce a resolution today directing the House Judiciary Committee to investigate whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should be impeached.
Five co-sponsors have joined Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, in backing the resolution.
At issue, said Inslee, is whether Gonzales lied to Congress in testimony about secret government wiretapping and about the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, including John McKay, the former federal prosecutor in Seattle.
Inslee and his co-sponsors are all former prosecutors. Inslee prosecuted cases for the city of Selah, Yakima County, while working as a private attorney in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
"Our resolution follows the careful procedure of conducting a thorough investigation before the House would decide on articles of impeachment — a fairness the attorney general did not afford to his fired U.S. attorneys," Inslee said Monday.
The House and Senate Judiciary committees have held several hearings at which Gonzales has testified this year. None of the leaders of the House Judiciary Committee, including Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., has signed on to the resolution. Inslee does not sit on that committee.
Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the ranking Republican on the committee, denounced the resolution Monday night.
"The call by Democrats to impeach Attorney General Gonzales is a misuse of congressional power for purely political reasons and a waste of the American public's money and time," Smith said in a statement.
He said Democrats have chosen "to engage in a politically motivated campaign to slander the Justice Department and undermine the credibility of federal law enforcement."
Inslee said the resolution was not something he arrived at casually. He's consulted with constitutional scholars since spring, in the wake of Gonzales' appearances before Congress.
A perjury case against Gonzales would not be enough to remove him from office, Inslee said.
"The president cannot ignore an impeachment," he said. "This is the only option available to the American people."
A simple majority vote of the full House would be required to impeach Gonzales. A conviction, which would remove him from office, would take a two-thirds vote in the Senate.
Lawmakers from both parties have questioned Gonzales' truthfulness.
FBI Director Robert Mueller suggested last week that Gonzales misled the Senate in his testimony about government approval of wiretapping in investigations of suspected terrorists.
Brian Roehrkasse, a spokesman for Gonzales, said it was "unfortunate that confusion exists, but not surprising since such discussions in a public forum involve complicated classified activities, where the greatest care must be used not to compromise sensitive intelligence operations."
Gonzales "would not and has not ever intentionally misled Congress," Roehrkasse said.
In January, Inslee took heat from some Democrats for asking state senators in Olympia to drop a resolution asking Congress to impeach President Bush. Inslee said at the time that promoting impeachment was "grandstanding."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Alicia Mundy: 202-662-7457 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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