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Sen. Hagel talks impeachment: 'This is not monarchy'

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.elpasotimes.com/ci_5519688 Sen. Hagel talks impeachment: This is not monarchy By Hope Yen / Associated Press Writer Article Launched: 03/25/2007
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 25, 2007
      http://www.elpasotimes.com/ci_5519688

      Sen. Hagel talks impeachment: 'This is not monarchy'
      By Hope Yen / Associated Press Writer
      Article Launched: 03/25/2007 08:30:03 AM MDT

      WASHINGTON - 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, R-Miss. ''For
      Congress to impose an artificial date of any kind is
      totally irresponsible.''

      GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel 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 White House had no immediate reaction Sunday to
      Hagel's comments.

      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 combat troops.

      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 face danger.

      ''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 legislation.

      ''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, 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 missions.

      ''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, 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.''
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