2007-03-26 00:51:22 UTC
Senator: Some see impeachment as option By HOPE YEN, Associated Press
With his go-it-alone approach on Iraq, President Bush is flouting
Congress and the public, so angering lawmakers that some consider
impeachment an option over his war policy, a senator from Bush's own
party said Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Senate's No. 2 Republican leader harshly criticized
House Democrats for setting an "artificial date" for withdrawing
troops from Iraq and said he believes Republicans have enough votes to
prevent passage of a similar bill in the Senate.
"We need to put that kind of decision in the hands of our commanders
who are there on the ground with the men and women," said Sen. Trent
Lott (news, bio, voting record), R-Miss. "For Congress to impose an
artificial date of any kind is totally irresponsible."
GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel (news, bio, voting record) of Nebraska, a member
of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a frequent critic of the
war, stopped short of calling for Bush's impeachment. But he made
clear that some lawmakers viewed that as an option should Bush choose
to push ahead despite public sentiment against the war.
"Any president who says, I don't care, or I will not respond to what
the people of this country are saying about Iraq or anything else, or
I don't care what the Congress does, I am going to proceed - if a
president really believes that, then there are - what I was pointing
out, there are ways to deal with that," said Hagel, who is considering
a 2008 presidential run.
The Senate planned to begin debate Monday on a war spending bill that
would set a nonbinding goal of March 31, 2008, for the removal of
That comes after the House narrowly passed a bill Friday that would
pay for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this year but would require that
combat troops come home from Iraq before September 2008 - or earlier
if the Iraqi government did not meet certain requirements.
On Sunday, Hagel said he was bothered by Bush's apparent disregard of
congressional sentiment on Iraq, such as his decision to send
additional troops. He said lawmakers now stood ready to stand up to
the president when necessary.
In the April edition of Esquire magazine, Hagel described Bush as
someone who doesn't believe he's accountable to anyone. "He's not
accountable anymore, which isn't totally true. You can impeach him,
and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I
don't know. It depends on how this goes," Hagel told the magazine.
In his weekly address Saturday, Bush accused Democrats of partisanship
in the House vote and said it would cut the number of troops below a
level that U.S. military commanders say they need. Vice President Dick
Cheney also accused Democrats of undermining U.S. troops in Iraq and
of sending a message to terrorists that America will retreat in the
"We have clearly a situation where the president has lost the
confidence of the American people in his war effort," Hagel said. "It
is now time, going into the fifth year of that effort, for the
Congress to step forward and be part of setting some boundaries and
some conditions as to our involvement."
"This is not a monarchy," he added, referring to the possibility that
some lawmakers may seek impeachment. "There are ways to deal with it.
And I would hope the president understands that."
Lott said setting withdrawal dates is a futile and potentially
dangerous exercise because Bush has made clear he will veto any such
"There are members in the Senate in both parties that are not
comfortable with how things have gone in Iraq," Lott said. "But they
understand that artificial timetables, even as goals, are a
problem. ...We will try to take out the arbitrary dates."
Sen. Bill Nelson (news, bio, voting record), D-Fla., said the Senate
bill seeks to heed the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study
Group by setting a goal of withdrawing some troops while leaving
others behind to train the Iraqi army for border patrol and other
"That, combined with a very aggressive, diplomatic effort in the
region is what we're going to need to have," he said.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif., said she
believed that setting a timetable was appropriate but declined to
predict whether it would garner enough Senate votes to pass.
"People of this country have spoken overwhelmingly. It's been constant
now," Feinstein said. "They want us out. It is time for the Senate to
weigh in. I hope we will have the votes."
Hagel spoke on ABC's "This Week," Feinstein and Lott appeared on "Fox
News Sunday," and Nelson was on CNN's "Late Edition."