Hoping to rob Republicans of a "parade of horrors" talking point, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi put out the word recently that impeachment was "off the table" even if Democrats gain control of Congress in November. In an Op-Ed piece for the Washington Post today, Michigan Rep. John Conyers seems to suggest that he's right there with her, then makes it clear that he isn't anywhere close.
Back in December, Conyers introduced a resolution calling for the creation of a select committee to determine whether George W. Bush should be impeached for encouraging the torture of detainees; misusing and misrepresenting intelligence on Iraq; misleading Americans about the reasons for war; and retaliating against critics like former ambassador Joseph Wilson.
In the first few lines of his piece today, Conyers seems to back away from all of that. Republicans "have resorted to the straw-man strategy of identifying a parade of horrors to come if Democrats gain the majority," Conyers writes. "Among these is the assertion that I, as the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, would immediately begin impeachment proceedings against President Bush. I will not do that."
So far, so Pelosi.
But then Conyers makes it plain that the only thing he "will not do" is start impeachment proceedings "immediately." "Rather than seeking impeachment, I have chosen to propose comprehensive oversight of these alleged abuses," Conyers says. Which "alleged abuses" are those? They seem to be the same ones described in Conyers' December resolution. And who would be doing the "oversight"? That would be the same "select committee" Conyers envisioned in his December resolution. "The committee's job would be to obtain answers -- finally," Conyers writes. "At the end of the process, if -- and only if -- the select committee, acting on a bipartisan basis, finds evidence of potentially impeachable offenses, it would forward that information to the Judiciary Committee."
So is impeachment really "off the table," as Pelosi told her House colleagues last week? And does Conyers agree with that view, as Pelosi's spokeswoman told the Post last week? It sure doesn't sound like it from here.