Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) on Wednesday left open the possibility that Sen. Russ Feingold’s (D-WI) bill to censure President Bush could get its day before the full Senate, a move certain to ignite an intense partisan showdown with election-year stakes, ROLL CALL reports Thursday. Excerpts:
Specter said he doesn’t know how the controversial resolution will play out before his Judiciary Committee, but suggested it could be brought to the floor under a rare procedural move. The panel could vote to defeat the bill, but send it to the floor anyway with an unfavorable recommendation.
Feingold’s motion seeks to censure President Bush for authorizing what the Wisconsin Democrat believes is an illegal domestic wiretapping program and then misleading the public about its existence. The highly charged measure has given Republicans a new rallying cry against Democrats even as the minority claims to be making headway with the public on national security matters.
The Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a hearing on Feingold’s bill Friday. Specter reiterated Wednesday that he plans to keep to that schedule, despite some suggestion earlier in the week that it might be postponed.
“Friday is a work day for me,” Specter said. “I’ll be here. We’ll have a hearing.”
U.S. Senator Russ Feingold announced today that Bruce Fein, former official in the Reagan Administration, and John Dean, former Counsel to President Nixon, will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee at Friday’s hearing on Feingold’s resolution to censure the president. The hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Friday morning.
To see what to expect, go below the fold:
From the Diane Rehm Show:
QUESTION: Is spying on the American people as impeachable an offense as lying about having sex with an intern?
BRUCE FEIN, constitutional scholar and former deputy attorney general in the Reagan Administration: I think the answer requires at least in part considering what the occupant of the presidency says in the aftermath of wrongdoing or rectification. On its face, if President Bush is totally unapologetic and says I continue to maintain that as a war-time President I can do anything I want – I don’t need to consult any other branches – that is an impeachable offense. It’s more dangerous than Clinton’s lying under oath because it jeopardizes our democratic dispensation and civil liberties for the ages. It would set a precedent that … would lie around like a loaded gun, able to be used indefinitely for any future occupant.
In acting here without Congressional approval, Bush has underlined that his Presidency is unchecked – in his and his attorneys’ view, utterly beyond the law. Now that he has turned the truly awesome powers of the NSA on Americans, what asserted powers will Bush use next? And when – if ever – will we – and Congress – discover that he is using them?
Should make for some entertaining television and an interesting Friday.