Rep. Conyers predicts Bush cooperation as impeachment support grows
Rep. John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, appeared Sunday on This Week with George Stephanopoulos to discuss his promise to hold hearings next week on President Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's jail sentence. He also responded to questions on his committee's outstanding subpoenas in the matter of the US Attorney firings, offering the striking suggestion that growing public support for impeachment of the president might make the White House more inclined to cooperate.
Conyers began by explaining why hearings into the Scooter Libby commutation are appropriate, even though the president's pardon power is absolute. "What separates this from President Clinton's pardons, and anybody else's," said Conyers, "is that ... the president is not supposed to intervene until there has been an exhaustion of the appeal process. And here the president didn't wait. ... The suspicion was that if Mr. Libby went to prison, he might further implicate other people in the White House, and that there was some kind of relationship here that does not exist in any of President Clinton's pardons."
"You seem to be suggesting that President Bush commuted Mr. Libby's sentence in order to keep him quiet," said a surprised-sounding Stephanopoulos.
"That's what the general impression is," responded Conyers. However, he insisted that his committee was simply asking Bush to do what Clinton had done and release his lawyers from executive privilege so they could explain the commutation and and "put this kind of feeling, that is fairly general, to rest."
Stephanopoulos next asked Conyers what he intended to do in light of a Washington Post report that the White House plans to deny his request for documents on the US Attorney firings. Conyers refused to be drawn into speculation, replying that "we don't have any other choice" but to press ahead with the subpoenas.
Conyers emphasized that his committee is continuing to negotiate with the White House, and told Stephanopoulos, "We're hoping that as the cries for Cheney and Bush now reach 46% and 58%, respectively, for impeachment, that we could begin to become a little bit more cooperative, if not even amicable in trying to get to the truth of these matters."
"We're seeking cooperation," insisted Convers. This is not partisan in any way." He also told Stephanopoulos, "I didn't put impeachment on the table. I was just telling you that 46% of the American people polled want Bush impeached."
The following video is from ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, broadcast on July 8.