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Pelosi Softens Impeachment Stance

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday signaled that she may allow committee hearings on a resolution aimed at impeaching President Bush in a shift from previous comments showing she was eager to avoid the issue.

In anticipation of Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) bringing forward an impeachment resolution later in the day, Pelosi told reporters that she expects the House Judiciary Committee to spend some time on the issue.

“This is a Judiciary Committee matter, and I believe we will see some attention being paid to it by the Judiciary Committee,” the Speaker said. “Not necessarily taking up the articles of impeachment because that would have to be approved on the floor, but to have some hearings on the subject.”

Kucinich said he is “grateful” for the Speaker’s change of heart on the issue. “This is a very positive expression” and is “healthier for the nation.”

The Ohio Democrat said he suspected leadership is easing its opposition to impeachment resolutions because of “the deep concern people have about the institution of Congress. The desire for accountability is growing and growing.”

Asked if he consulted with Pelosi in advance about a compromise approach to moving his resolution, Kucinich smiled and said, “I am in constant contact with my friends in leadership.”

The real goal is to have the opportunity to appear before the Judiciary Committee to formally present the article of impeachment, he said. “That would be an important moment.”

While leadership may not “go along with that” plan, Kucinich said he has hope that they will because, in Washington, even the “slightest perceptible shift” on a position is worth looking at.

Kucinich is set to read the full text of his resolution on Thursday afternoon, although Pelosi said there will be no votes on advancing it until next week.

The Ohio Democrat said he will seek to refer the resolution to committee when it comes up for a vote on Monday or Tuesday.

Kucinich said it will take about 45 minutes to read the whole document, a stark contrast to the four hours and 45 minutes it took to read his last Bush impeachment resolution with 35 articles.

Thursday’s narrowly crafted resolution includes only one article of impeachment, which charges Bush with fraudulently obtaining support for an attack on Iraq by creating a false case for war.

For his part, the top House Defense appropriator responsible for advancing the Iraq War spending bill said he supports Kucinich bringing forward impeachment resolutions because “he’s not playing a game. He’s impassioned about impeachment.”

Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Chairman John Murtha (D-Pa.) said it is important to bring forward such measures because many Members feel strongly about Iraq War missteps, “even though it takes time and irritates people on the floor.”

Still, asked if he would ever vote in favor of impeaching Bush, Murtha said, “Nah.”

“From a practical standpoint,” launching into an impeachment process would “set us back substantially,” said the top defense appropriator.

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