On MSNBC's Countdown show Tuesday night, Keith Olbermann devoted the first segment of his show to more discussion about President Bush's impeachability over the NSA wiretapping controversy. On the December 20 show, as detailed in an earlier Newsbusters posting, substitute host Alison Stewart discussed the issue with Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer without any conservative guest to provide balance. Similarly, this time Olbermann interviewed, without rebuttal from any Bush supporter, former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean, a longtime critic of the Bush administration, who notably helped inspire Boxer's inquiries into impeachment by proclaiming to her that Bush was "the first President to admit to an impeachable offense."
Tuesday night on MSNBC's Countdown show, Keith Olbermann's substitute host Alison Stewart featured an interview with Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer discussing the possibility of impeaching President Bush over the current NSA spying controversy. Quoting a recent statement by former Nixon White House counsel John Dean that Bush is "the first President to admit to an impeachable offense," Stewart interviewed Boxer about her inquiries into impeachment without a rebuttal from any conservative guest. Instead, Stewart followed up with an appearance by Newsweek correspondent Richard Wolffe. Citing a column by "my pal," Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, Stewart raised the charge that "the only reason that the President did not want the NSA program to become public knowledge was because it was embarrassing and it would make trouble, not because it threatens national security."
Stewart plugged the Boxer segment in the opening teaser, conveying that "most on the left are critical of Mr. Bush and what he did. And now they are doing something about it." She then opened the show: "It's the first mention of impeachment since the President acknowledged authorizing the NSA to spy on certain Americans without a warrant. Senator Barbara Boxer of California advancing the 'I' word after former Nixon White House counsel John Dean said that the President, in admitting he authorized the NSA spy program, Mr. Bush became, quote, 'the first President to admit to an impeachable offense,' end quote."
CNN on Tuesday afternoon gave credibility to the ruminations from a few hardcore leftists that President Bush should be impeached over authorizing, without prior court approval, eavesdropping on people within U.S. borders communicating with those abroad who have ties to al-Qaeda. Both Jack Cafferty and anchor Wolf Blitzer raised the subject during the 4pm EST hour of The Situation Room. Cafferty's question of the hour: “Do you think it's an impeachable offense for the President to authorize domestic spying without a warrant?” He set that up by insisting that “if you listen carefully, you can hear the word impeachment.” He asserted that “two congressional Democrats are using it, and they're not the only ones,” referring to how “Senator Barbara Boxer sent a letter to legal experts yesterday asking if they think the President's wiretapping of phone calls without a warrant is a quote, ‘impeachable offense,' unquote.” Cafferty cited the claims of John Dean and touted how Newsweek's Jonathan Alter “says that similar abuse of power was part of the impeachment charge brought against Richard Nixon in 1974.” (Tom Johnson filed a NewsBusters item on Alter's online rant.)
Sandwiched between Cafferty's question and his reading of e-mail replies, Blitzer set up a live interview with Boxer on Capitol Hill: “Some Democrats now are raising the possibility that Mr. Bush's authorization of the plan may be an actual impeachable offense. Joining us now, one of the staunchest critics, Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California. Precisely, Senator Boxer, where do you stand on this very sensitive issue of impeachment?" Blitzer did, however, soon move on to challenging Democratic spin on the “domestic spying” matter. (Transcripts follow.)
For those of you who haven’t seen this morning’s “Meet the Press,” I highly recommend that you do so that you can see William Safire at his best, as well as some great incites from David Brooks. What follows are key statements from the two of them concerning Plamegate, and the events of the week.
While introducing an interview with former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean on his Countdown show Friday night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann implied that Plamegate is worse than past White House scandals because, in contrast to scandals from the Nixon, Reagan, and Harding administrations, a sitting White House staff member has been indicted. Referring to Bush supporters who were offended by the title of Dean's book, Worse than Watergate, Olbermann quipped that because of Libby's indictment, "the protests about John Dean's title might instead be coming from the fans of Presidents Nixon, Reagan and Harding."
John Dean, former counsel to president Richard M. Nixon, wrote a column for FindLaw yesterday that is an absolute must read. In it, he gave a thorough analysis of the issues facing special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, while indirectly discrediting the parade of media representatives who have declared in the past couple of weeks that chief White House aide Karl Rove, and Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, will be indicted next week.
The crux of his argument is that unless Libby and or Rove perjured themselves or suborned perjury, it would be difficult to prove that their actions were not in the interest of national security:
“It is difficult to envision Patrick Fitzgerald prosecuting anyone, particularly Vice President Dick Cheney, who believed they were acting for reasons of national security. While hindsight may find their judgment was wrong, and there is no question their tactics were very heavy-handed and dangerous, I am not certain that they were acting from other than what they believed to be reasons of national security. They were selling a war they felt needed to be undertaken.
“In short, I cannot imagine any of them being indicted, unless they were acting for reasons other than national security. Because national security is such a gray area of the law, come next week, I can see this entire investigation coming to a remarkable anti-climax, as Fitzgerald closes down his Washington Office and returns to Chicago.
“In short, I think the frenzy is about to end -- and it will not go any further.”