The drumbeat surrounding Ninth Circuit Judge Jay Bybee has only gotten louder since the White House released a graphic interrogation memo he signed while working for the Bush administration. Yesterday, the New York Times called for his impeachment, and today Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-New York) of the House Judiciary Committee did, too.
Rather than sounding out committee Democrats as to their stance on Bybee, Legal Pad decided to take a (perhaps) counterintuitive approach. We called every single Republican member and posed the following question: “Does the Congressman think the Judiciary Committee should be considering Bybee’s impeachment?” We thought that might provide a more interesting read on just how much political danger Bybee might be in at this point. After all, if a Republican wants to consider Bybee’s impeachment (or, if he doesn’t vociferously defend the judge), that would be worth watching.
We’ll post each Republican’s response (or non-response) as they roll in throughout the day. So far, we received this statement from the ranking member, Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas:
“If Congress gets into the habit of impeaching federal judges for legal advice provided while serving in the Administration, no good lawyer in their right mind would join the Administration!” Smith said in an e-mail. “Even government lawyers must be free to provide legal advice and counsel without fear of retribution from politicians. Mr. Bybee was asked to provide his legal — not personal — opinion regarding interrogation techniques. He should not now be punished for doing his job.”
In addition, a spokesman for Rep. Dan Lungren (of the Sacramento suburbs and beyond) said the congressman is out of the country, and does not have a position.
Update: Approaching 9 p.m. East Coast time, and no more Republicans have called to take a position on impeachment proceedings.
And another thing ... Aside from impeachment, Bybee won't have to worry about a prison cell: Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said Sunday that the lawyers behind the memos shouldn't be prosecuted. Oops, spoke too soon.
— Dan Levine