For recent background on this issue, see: Dave Lindorff’s “Huge Win for Impeachment in Vermont.”
Note that on March 25, Leahy avoided the question of impeachment from Washington Stakeout.
Sam Husseini: The Vermont State Senate just voted overwhelmingly for an impeachment resolution against Bush and Cheney. You put out a statement basically opposing that. Why are you in effect defending â€”
Senator Patrick Leahy: That’s not what I said.
SH: â€” why are you â€”
PL: Let me finish. That’s not what I said.
PL: Read that statement and the press have it if you have other questions.
SH: What was the statement?
PL: I think one of the things â€”
SH: â€” describe your position â€”
PL: â€” I think one of the things we’re gonna find with the Attorney General â€” he has lost the confidence of many in the Senate. Both Republicans and Democrats, as well as in the House. As well as the American people. But if he is to be replaced, he has to be replaced with somebody who says that they’ll be independent. The reason we have the problems we now have is that the White House was allowed, for the first time in the history of the Department of Justice, first time, they were allowed to go in and interfere with ongoing prosecutions, allowed to interfere with the justice system. And as a result, we have had people hurt in law enforcement, from the cop on the beat all the way up through. If there is another attorney general, it has to be somebody who is willing to swear that they will never allow the White House to do this. Now, I would hope whoever the next president is realizes that the criminal justice system in this country is something we all need, and need to have as independent with total integrity. We can never allow, never allow, this sort of interference with our prosecutors of the criminal justice system again.
SH: Senator, I’m not asking â€” I’m asking about the impeachment proceedings. Why are you defending the President from impeachment? Senator â€”
… [Leahy turns to field another question about gun control] …
PL: I was a prosecutor for eight years. I could never imagine having the governor of our state, for example, telling me who I could prosecute and who I can’t and how I should do it. Basically, they allowed in the federal system, for the president to do that and that’s wrong.
SH: Senator, why are you in effect shielding the President? You have an impeachment movement that got the State Senate in your own state and you’re in effect shielding â€”
PL: I think that anybody who looks at the investigations that I’ve had, what I’ve had done, nobody in their right mind would say I’m shielding the President.
[Leahy walks away]
SH: From the impeachment effort. You didn’t answer my que â€”