The Grand Old Partisan of Illinois

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Jesse Jackson, Jr. is an idiot

There’s really no other way to put it.

Perhaps the esteemed Congressman should sit down and read the Constitution before running to the nearest TV camera and declaring that the President should be impeached for committing “very serious crimes” against it.

Article II, Section 2 very clearly states that the President “shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States.”

It doesn’t take a law degree from the University of Illinois to understand that exercising an explicitly proscribed power is not a crime against the Constitution. So, whether you think “Scooter” should be hung from the nearest yardarm or given a ticker-tape parade, you cannot deny that President Bush was well within his Constitutional authority to commute his sentence.

Unless, of course, you are an idiot.

Also posted at Illinoize


  • From the Washington Post (related to Watergate and the Clinton impeachment trial):

    In the [Constitutional] convention George Mason argued that the President might use his pardoning power to “pardon crimes which were advised by himself” or, before indictment or conviction, “to stop inquiry and prevent detection.” James Madison responded:

    [I]f the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds [to] believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty…

    Madison went on to [say] contrary to his position in the Philadelphia convention, that the President could be suspended when suspected, and his powers would devolve on the Vice President, who could likewise be suspended until impeached and convicted, if he were also suspected.

    (c/p at Illinoize)

    By Blogger Rob Nesvacil, at 3/7/07 1:28 PM  

  • Rob:

    Commuting the sentence of Libby neither shelters him from prosecution (that's already occured), nor obstructs the potential for further prosecution up the chain (Libby was convicted of lying in regards to a crime he did not commit....where would Fitzy go from there? Until Armitage is charged with something, we have to assume that the "outing" was, in the end, actually not a crime at all, or at least not a crime Fitzgerald ever intended to actually pursue.)

    By Blogger grand old partisan, at 3/7/07 2:26 PM  

  • That has nothing to do with you calling a United States Representative an "idiot".

    Rep. Jackson literally agrees with James Madison, here. Not bad company for a current Congressman of either party to keep.

    You are the one calling Jackson (and by extension Madison) an "idiot".

    By Blogger Rob Nesvacil, at 3/7/07 4:05 PM  

  • Jackson said:

    "Since the president has intervened in this process, it is now the Congress’ obligation and responsibility to intervene in the executive process and begin an inquiry into these very serious crimes against the constitution of the United States."

    Regardless of what you or Jackson wants to think, the Constitution of the United States gives Congress ZERO authority (let alone "responsibility") to intervene in the pardon/commutation process (I believe that's what he meant by "executive process").

    And just what "very serious crimes" against the Constitution have been committed? There was no obstruction of justice (which is the case I believe you are trying to make), because the case is, essentially closed. Libby was not the leaker - Armitage was. And Fitgerald has no plans to charge Armitage. So what investigation has Bush obstructed with this action?

    (and no, I don't think Madison is an "idiot." In fact, I think he's smart enought to realize that Fitgerald never should have pursued an investigation against Libby for a crime he know he didn't commit.)

    By Blogger grand old partisan, at 3/7/07 4:26 PM  

  • You're arguing with the 4th President of the United States, not me or even Rep. Jackson.

    It was James Madison who indicated there is an implied Congressional right to begin impeachment proceedings "[I]f the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds [to] believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty…"

    Libby's crimes, of which he was convicted by a jury of his peers (under a presiding judge appointed by Pres. Bush), were perjury and obstruction of justice.

    Perjury is lying.

    Henry Hyde set the bar for impeachment at perjury (lying) with Clinton's impeachment.

    Either you believe the Clinton impeachment was uncalled for (because it was based on perjury and you would be arguing that perjury was not very serious crime against the Constitution)...

    Or you believe Libby needed the commutation -- or even to be pardoned -- because you feel he did not actually commit perjury (Fitzgerald prosecuted him for perjury and obstruction of justice so I'm unsure why you're claiming Fitz "pursued an investigation against Libby for a crime he know he didn't commit" -- the man was convicted of the crimes Fitz pursued)...

    But neither of those two trains of thought preclude the Congress (which may very well believe things different from your own beliefs) from beginning impeachment proceedings under the Madison Standard which is essentially connection and suspicion (even less stringent than the Hyde Standard of perjury).

    You're the one who painted yourself into a corner Partisan, not I. And it you who are arguing against James Madison's standards, not I.

    By Blogger Rob Nesvacil, at 3/7/07 4:54 PM  

  • PS: Re-read Article I (sections 2, 3 and 8 in particular) and you'll find the portions related to Congress having the authority to intervene against Executive actions, indeed the actions of any U.S. government department or officer -- whether by impeachment procedures or legislative action.

    By Blogger Rob Nesvacil, at 3/7/07 5:02 PM  

  • (1) Madison’s arguments during the deliberations at the Constitutional Convention are not the governing laws of this country – the Constitution is. Tell me what in what article and section of the Constitution the “Madison Standard” can be found. We are a nation ruled by law - not the musings or opinions of men, regardless of how honorable and intelligent they are (or were).

    (2) Yes – Bill Clinton was impeached by the House for committing perjury. And even though he was found guilty of that crime, he received no punishment for it. So, it seems to me that Bush IS following the “bar” set by the Senate in the Clinton case.

    (3) I believe that Libby is guilty of lying to the Grand Jury. But he did so in the course of an investigation by Fitzgerald to find out something he already knew: who leaked the identity of Valerie Plame. The person who did leak the name has yet to be the subject of any investigation, let alone indictment, by Fitzgerald. So what was this whole thing really about, anyway? Because it obviously wasn’t about bringing someone to justice for outing a spy – if it was, Armitage would be behind bars right now.

    By Blogger grand old partisan, at 5/7/07 8:54 AM  

  • 1) Article I, Section 2, last clause.

    The House has the ability to impeach the president. Period.

    What Pres. Madison is saying is that the House can impeach a president for suspicion of helping a convict to whom he is connected, and from whose pardon (or, in this case, commutation) the president would benefit.

    The impeachment proceedings would determine whether or not impeachment itself has merit. (Madison doesn't say Congress must impeach. Just that they have the right to do so.)

    2) Clinton was impeached.

    That was his punishment.

    The Senate decided not to remove him from office (which would have been further punishment).

    Libby is not the president... so your comparison is apples to oranges.

    The question is whether the president lied (or, as Madison opined, whether he asked someone else to lie for his benefit).

    You also forget that Libby was convicted of both perjury and obstruction of justice by a court of law.

    3) Libby no longer has any compelling reason to cooperate with Fitzgerald in order to further the investigation into the leak.

    Fitzgerald clearly does not have a solid enough case even if he does have a suspect. Without honest information from Libby, he may never have a solid enough case -- these are basic fundamentals of how criminal law works.

    You may recall that the other charge for which Libby was convicted was "obstruction of justice".

    What do you think "obstruction of justice" means???

    By Blogger Rob Nesvacil, at 5/7/07 10:33 AM  

  • (1) The House that the ability to impeach the president for high crimes and misdemeanors. Can you please tell me what crime Mr. Bush has committed? As President, he has the power to grant pardon and reprieve. Period. The Constitution provides Congress no authority to limit that power, or exercise oversight of it.

    Bottom line: Exercising an explicated enumerated (and unrestricted) power is not a high crime or misdemeanor. And thus, the House has no grounds for impeachment.

    (2) Impeachment is an indictment, or formal accusation. It is not a punishment. Mr. Clinton received no punishment for his crimes, but Mr. Libby still faces some pretty stiff financial and legal penalties for his crimes, despite being spared a prison term by the President.

    (3) Armitage has publicly admitted his role in leaking Plame’s name. He does, however, maintain that his actions were not criminal because Plame’s status at the time of the leak was not legally protected. Now, you'd be hard pressed to argue that Fitzgerald needs cooperation from Libby tp prove that what Armitage freely admits to doing was, in fact, criminal.

    By Blogger grand old partisan, at 5/7/07 11:10 AM  

  • 1) The president may have commuted the sentence for criminal reasons (possibly conspiratorial in nature; possibly as "simple" as lying, obstructing justice, etc.).

    An impeachment trial in the House could determine the validity of such suspicions.

    Again, that was Pres. Madison's point.

    2a) An impeachment is a political punishment in and of itself. It may not be a criminal punishment, but the Congress does not have executive powers to enforce criminal punishments as it is.

    Do you deny that Henry Hyde admitted as much when he explained to WLS-TV reporter Andy Shaw that he initiated the Clinton impeachment proceedings in order to attain revenge for the investigations into the Nixon Watergate scandal?

    2b) "Pretty stiff financial" penalties? Are you kidding? Conservatives have raised more than $5 million for the guy. His fine is barely a few percent of that windfall. (Throw in a book deal and Libby may even stand to profit from all this.)

    3) You've contradicted yourself, saying Armitage admitted to the leak but that he didn't feel it was a leak because he believed her to not be legally protected at the time... And then a few words later you say "Armitage freely admits to doing [what] was, in fact, criminal."

    More to the point, the direction any Fitzgerald investigation would've taken would've likely been to determine whether or not others beside Armitage were involved and the nature of Armitage's impression that he was somehow acting legally because he believed Plame's status had been changed (which, truth be told, was news to both Plame and the CIA itself who believed her to still very much be undercover).

    However, AGAIN, none of your point 3 nor my response to it matters given that the House may impeach based on suspicion, as Pres. Madison explained and as I've reiterated for you ad nauseum.

    By Blogger Rob Nesvacil, at 5/7/07 12:15 PM  

  • I’m gonna tackle the last part first, Rob.

    If Armitage freely admits that he was the one who “outed” Plame, and Fitzy still hasn’t brought charges against him, why would it matter who else may have been involved? The question of whether Armitage’s actions were illegal is purely academic, in the legal sense. Fitzgerald doesn’t need the cooperation of any potential co-conspirators in order to proceed. In fact, going ahead with an indictment on Armitage may put pressure on him to talk about who else was involved in the alleged leak. It’s hard to argue that anyone here is “obstructing justice,” since justice is hardly in a position to be obstructed.

    Okay, now I’ll head back to the top -

    (1) Conservatives –myself included – complained bitterly when Clinton pardoned a high-rolling contributor to his campaigns. But I don’t believe anyone (I know for sure that I did not) didn’t agree that, at the end of the day, Clinton had the authority to do it – however ignoble or illicit his reasons may have seemed.

    (2) “Political punishment?” Clinton’s approval ratings went UP during and after the impeachment. I fail to see how it hurt him politically.

    (3) I didn’t contradict myself, although I may have been unclear. I didn’t mean that Armitage freely admits that what he did was criminal. I said that Fitzgerald doesn’t need Libby to prove the criminality of what Armitage freely admits he did.

    By Blogger grand old partisan, at 5/7/07 12:46 PM  

  • If justice is hardly in a position to be obstructed why was Libby convicted by a jury of his peers under a Bush-appointed judge for that very charge?

    To your enumerated points:

    1) Clinton was not involved in perpetrating Marc Rich's crimes.

    2) Now you're telling me having the word "Impeach" forever associated with Clinton's presidency is not a punishment... Please.

    3) Armitage claims he believed he was acting lawfully because he was under the impression Plame's cover had been changed.

    What is unkown is who changed her status, under what authority and/or why?

    Outing an undercover agent is treason, but when those involved are perjuring themselves and obstructing justice it's difficult to prove the charge as I'm sure you can understand.

    By Blogger Rob Nesvacil, at 5/7/07 1:40 PM  

  • Let’s start from the very beginning.

    Someone leaked to the press that Joe Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was an employee of the CIA.

    The special prosecutor assigned to investigate this alleged crime determines that the person responsible was Richard Armitage. But, for whatever reason, he decides not to pursue charges against him. Instead, Fitzgerald conducts an investigation centering on the Vice President’s office – in which Armitage never worked. (Indeed, it is well known that Armitage had a less than cordial relationship with the VP and his staff.)

    In the course of Fitgerald’s investigation into someone other than the person known to have committed the alleged crime, Libby – intentionally of erroneously – gave false testimony. Fitzgerald charges him, and wins a conviction against Libby for that crime, and tells the press (NPR’s All things considered, March 6, 2007) that no additional charges would be filed in the probe (this was well before the commutation, mind you).

    Bush, presumably understanding that Libby was indeed guilty of the crimes of which he was convicted, allows that conviction to stand, but commutes the prison sentence, probably because he sees that the circumstance from which the charges stemmed is utterly ridiculous (see above).

    Finally, Fitzgerald, never shy in front of the press, voices his deep disappointment in the President’s actions. Noticeably absent from his criticism is any hint that the commutation will hamper further investigations relating to the Plame matter. Indeed, he had already stated 5 months prior that no more charges were going to be filed in the matter. (what's more, Fitgerald himself even acknowledges that “the Constitution provides that commutation decisions are a matter of presidential prerogative.”)

    In light of these facts (and these are the facts), how could any reasonable person argue that the President’s commutation of Libby will “to stop inquiry and prevent detection” in the words of Madison.

    By Blogger grand old partisan, at 5/7/07 2:39 PM  

  • And my reply pointing out the several holes in your "final reply" is at the Illinois Reason blog.

    By Blogger Rob Nesvacil, at 5/7/07 3:15 PM  

  • PS: One point I've let slide in all this is that Libby told Judith Miller and Matthew Cooper about Plame being CIA before Novak's column came out (Bob Novak was the one who got info separately from Richard Armitage).

    What that means is that Libby may have revealed the info illegally (under the definitions of the Espionage Act) even while Armitage later also revealed the info under what he thought were legal circumstances. (Again, Armitage is under the impression he offered the info legally despite a lack of clarity on just who authorized Plame's change in status since neither Plame herself nor the CIA changed her status.)

    By Blogger Rob Nesvacil, at 6/7/07 12:32 AM  

  • A Republican Governor will selling pardons in Illinois years ago to Al Capone's boys.

    Should he have been pardoned?

    Bush should be impeached for spying on Americans w/o warrants. It is simple. He admitted to it. It is criminal.

    Since September 11, the Bush Administration has repeatedly exploited the threat of terrorism for political ends, from dirty bombs to sleeper cells to electoral politics.

    By Blogger Milton, at 2/8/07 8:43 PM  

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