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Napolitano: in retrospect, Clinton crime not impeachable offense

Reported by Chrish - December 21, 2005

FOX News Legal Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano, appearing on The Big Story yesterday 12/20/05, equated Bush's current predicament with that of Bill Clinton's lying to a judge over the Lewinsky affair: criminal, but does not rise to the level of impeachment. He charges that if the Democrats take over the House in 2006 they will impeach Bush because "they hate him" and want "payback".

The teaser for the segment:
Gibson - Bush is defending the NSA's secret wiretapping program saying he absolutely has the legal authority to do that. Could he be facing some trouble down the line, Judge?
Napolitano - He did not have the legal authority, but there's no way this is an impeachable offense.
Gibson - Well, good for you, for once.

Here's my transcript of the exchange between Gibson and Napolitano:

G - Some lawmakers have promised to investigate Bush and his no longer secret domestic spying program. If they determine that he broke the law, will they move to impeach him? Let's bring in the judge.
Just on pure legal grounds, never mind George Bush, anybody, anybody does this, is it an impeachable offense?

N - I don't think it is an impeachable offense, and I spent a chunk of the afternoon reading the Nixon evidence - not the Clinton evidence, it's fresh in my mind, it wasn't that long ago. The thread in the Nixon evidence was a strike at the security of the republic, the president simply not doing his job at all. The charges against Nixon were similar to the charges against Bush with respect to the domestic spying: using electronic surveillance without a search warrant. I don't think that was an impeachable offense then and I don't think it's an impeachable offense now.

G - Am I wrong to bring it up, or is your judgment that should the Democrats take control of the House that somebody want to try this?

N - I hate to say this, you're not wrong to bring it up, and they will try it. They'll try it because they have hated this president since the year 2000, when they still think he stole the election, notwithstanding the vote outcome and
notwithstanding the Supreme Court decision, and if they get a majority in the House of Representatives in 2006 this will be payback (spits out the word) for what they say the Republicans did to PresidentClinton.

G - (overtalking) OK, they say President Clinton was impeached over a sex act...

N - He was impeached for lying under oath.

G - Right, it was lying under oath to a judge, who travelled all the way to Washington to hear his testimony...

N - A judge that he appointed!

G - (laughing) A judge that he appointed! Is that the same class of offense as what Bush is said to be doing here?

N - No. neither of those things, in retrospect, appears to affect the security of the republic. They were both wrong. Clinton's was probably criminal, Bush's may be criminal. I don't think either of them rises to an impeachable offense, like treason or bribery, which is what the Constitution says.

G - (overtalks) If it's a crime, can you indict a sitting president? This question came up at the time of Clinton.

N - The answer is, and a sitting president has never been indicted, there's no prohibition on it, but traditionally a sitting president is not. The remedy would be political. If people think George Bush has committed a crime (my emphasis) they'll vote the Democrats in, who will make his life miserable, but he'll still be the president.

End segment.

Comment: As evidence of corruption and criminal activity in the Bush administration continues to mount and the prospect of impeachment looms larger, administration defenders and sycophants must raise the bar for charges. What would have had Clinton impeached and indicted becomes this president's prerogative and necessary during a time of (undeclared and endless) war.

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