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Russ Feingold: Censure, Possibly Impeach, Bush

Sen. Russ Feingold said Sunday that Congress needs to censure President Bush as a possible first step towards impeachment for authorizing the wiretapping of terrorists based in America, adding that Bush's alleged lawbreaking was "much more serious, clearly, than anything Bill Clinton ever did."

"This conduct is right in the strike zone of the concept of high crimes and misdemeanors," Feingold told ABC's "This Week." "What the president did, by consciously and intentionally violating the Constitution and the laws of this country with this illegal wiretapping, has to be answered."

Feingold announced that he will introduce on Monday a resolution of censure in the Senate "to condemn his unlawful authorization of wiretaps of Americans."

Asked about the prospect of impeaching Bush, the Wisconsin Democrat said: "That's an option that we could look at if somebody thought that was a really good idea."

"We have to consider, is it best for the country to start to start impeachment proceedings? Is it best for the country to consider removing the president from office?"

"We're not mandated to impeach a president who has broken the law."

Sen. Feingold added, however, "I think we are required to do our job, to live up to our oath of office, and say, wait a minute - there has to be, at least as a first step, some accountability."

"We, as a Congress, have to stand up to a president who acts as if the Bill of Rights and the Constitution was repealed on Sept. 11. We didn't enact martial law on Sept. 11."

Feingold said his censure resolution would give Senate Democrats the opportunity to rebuke Bush without resorting to impeachment. "We have to be the party that stands up for the rule of law," he urged.

Feingold insisted that Bush's lawbreaking far exceeded anything perpetrated by his predecssor, arguing: "This conduct here is so much more serious, clearly, than anything Bill Clinton ever did that it can't even be compared. This is an open and shut case for the censure of the president.

"Bill Clinton got into a bad situation and he didn't handle it very well," he explained. "But this a conscious and repeated attempt where the president continues to say that what he did was proper. And [he] has repeatedly misled the American people."



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