To: National Desk, Political Reporter
Contact: Bob Weiner or Rebecca VanderLinde, 301-283-0821 or 202-329-1700
WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Republicans' fear of impeachment is a "red herring" says the former press secretary to Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-MI), who as chairman of the Judiciary Committee in a Democratic Congress would have to lead any presidential impeachment investigation. In an oped column in today's Detroit Free Press, "The GOP Spins on Impeachment", Robert Weiner, who worked with Conyers as spokesman for the House Government Operations Committee under then-chairman Conyers before serving as a senior public affairs director in the Clinton White House, asserted that "Republicans fearful of losing control of the House are trying to create hysteria about the likelihood of impeaching President Bush."
According to Weiner, "Impeachment is not on Conyers' current agenda. It is only a red herring on the Republican agenda."
Weiner points out:
-- The Republican National Committee website put up a huge fear-mongering headline: "THE REAL DEM AGENDA: IMPEACHMENT".
-- Republican Congressional Committee Chair Tom Reynolds (R-NY) has claimed that Democrats offer "nothing ... aside from subpoenas, surrender, and impeachment."
-- Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), chair of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee, sent out a mailing citing Democrats' possible "impeachment of President Bush."
-- Just this Sunday, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough (former Republican congressman) said we need to keep Congress as is because that's "all that stands between him (Bush) and a crazy Democratic chairman launching impeachment hearings."
Weiner says that Conyers has said and "has told me directly: 'I'm not going to conduct an impeachment. That would take all of our time. I would not want to bring an impeachment investigation because that would drain time and energy from the work that needs to be done, and it would take away the country's attention from issues that need to be addressed.'"
Conyers explained, "We need to investigate and conduct oversight of issues like how we got to the war, the mislabeled WMD's, civil liberties violations including under the Patriot Act, the Medicare drug bill, the energy policy."
Weiner points out that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.), the would-be Speaker, agrees. Pelosi said in a statement, "Democrats are not about impeachment. Democrats are about bringing the country together ... Investigation does not equate to impeachment. Investigation is the requirement of Congress. It's about checks and balances."
Weiner thinks that Republicans are raising impeachment as a PR cover for the fact that they "may be worried about what Conyers might uncover" as Chair. Weiner suggests people look to Conyers' historical actions as a chairman to predict the future.
Weiner points out that Jack Anderson, the renowned muckraking Washington columnist who died last December, described Conyers in a 1994 column as a "junkyard dog investigator," who was no less aggressive when he chaired the Government Operations Committee with fellow Democrat Bill Clinton in the White House as he had been under the Republican administration of the first President George Bush. Anderson said Conyers is "watching out for the taxpayer's wallet by rooting out fraud, waste, and abuse in every corner of the bureaucracy," and "his only special interest appears to be his constituents in downtrodden Detroit where one-third of the population lives below the poverty line."
The morning of the Judiciary Committee's vote on the articles of impeachment against President Clinton, Weiner was with Conyers as he solemnly listened to jazz in his darkened office. He was pensive and deeply disturbed by what he knew would be the Committee's partisan vote. "Conyers led the opposition to impeachment and was ultimately vindicated by the Senate's refusal to vote for it," Weiner says.
Weiner now heads a Washington public affairs and issues strategies company, Robert Weiner Associates, http://www.weinerpublic.com.
(Source: Robert Weiner Associates 301-283-0821/202-329-1700)
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