House Committee Battles Over Impeachment 'Plot'
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 25) -- Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee charged Tuesday their Republican counterparts are plotting to use a review of the Justice Department to lay the groundwork for an impeachment inquiry against President Bill Clinton.
"I must now come to the House to report that the Republican leadership is now planning to surreptitiously commence ... an impeachment investigation without any notice to the Congress, to the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee or to the American people, without a vote from the House of Representatives," Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) said on the House floor.
Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), who chairs the committee, quickly fired back, dismissing the Democrats' accusations as "raw partisan politics." Democrats are "trying to create an adversarial aura, a confrontational aura, and it's not true," Hyde said.
A committee meeting earlier in the morning erupted into a shouting match as Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the committee, accused Hyde of shutting Democrats out of discussions over how to spend an additional $1.3 million allocated to the panel.
Hyde insisted aides to Conyers had been fully informed of plans to use the extra money for a Justice Department review. "We intend to look at the Justice Department from aardvark to Zimbabwe to find out all we can about it to make it cost effective and to exercise oversight in the fullest extent of the term," Hyde told Conyers. "Your counsel has been notified all along about this."
"Well, what about me, sir?" Conyers fired back. "The hell with my counsel. You are the chairman and I am the ranking member. I don't have to go see my counsel to find out what's on your mind."
As part of the survey, new staff will be hired to look into each of Justice's agencies. But staff would have the power to move into impeachment-related issues as needed, Hyde said.
In a letter to House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Conyers and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said a letter released by Hyde indicates the money will be used to investigate the Clinton Administration for political purposes.