WASHINGTON (CNN) - At a crowded Judiciary Committee hearing today, House Democrats talked about impeaching President Bush.... to the disgust of the committee's Republicans.
It was purely stagecraft. The day's star witness, Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, received a noisy ovation filled with cheering, clapping and whistling as he walked into the hearing room. Kucinich, who has introduced articles of impeachment, exhorted the committee to "support and defend the constitution that has been trampled time and again over the last seven years."
The hearing, technically, was not about impeachment but about executive power and its constitutional limitations. Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, D-Michigan, ticked-down a list of items that included, in his words, "the politicization of the Department of Justice, the misuse of signing statements, the misuse of authority with regard to detention, interrogation and rendition, possible manipulation of intelligence regarding the Iraq war, improper retaliation against critics of the administration... and excessive secrecy."
While Conyers called the evidence "both credible and substantial," Republicans scoffed.
Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, the senior Republican on the committee, dismissed the hearings as "an anger management class."
For more on the impeachment back-and-forth, tune into Campbell Brown: Election Center tonight at 8 pm ET.
"This hearing will not cause us to impeach the president; it will only serve to impeach Congress's credibility," Smith said. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Arizona, went further with his criticism, saying Friday’s session "amuses our terrorist friends greatly," and "would make Alice in Wonderland roll her eyes.”
In the end, the committee took no action toward beginning an impeachment inquiry.