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Impeachment backers want meeting postponed

SOUTH BURLINGTON — Impeachment supporters Tuesday called on Rep. Peter Welch, D-VT, to postpone a statewide town meeting on whether Pres. George W. Bush and Vice Pres. Dick Cheney should be impeached, saying the time and place will ensure a low turnout.

Earlier on Tuesday, Welch's office said it would hold a statewide forum on impeachment at 9 a.m. at the Hartford High School. The meeting is expected to last an hour. Welch will offer some opening and closing remarks, but plans to leave as much time as possible for Vermonters to speak on the issue.

Hosting such a meeting was one of the requests several impeachment activists had of Welch during a brief meeting on May 5 in White River Junction.

One of those activists, James Leas of South Burlington, said the 9 a.m. meeting was not acceptable to many impeachment supporters.

"Peter Welch said he wants to hear from Vermonters. If he really wants to hear from Vermonters who live in places like Enosberg, Bennington, and Island Pond, he would not schedule it for nine in the morning. Also, any time there is a meeting between parties both sides work together to find a mutually agreeable time. You don't give ultimatums," said Leas. "The people who came out by the hundreds to the State House want to help our elected Representative to Congress consider this issue by participating in an inclusive discussion where everyone can come. They do not want our Congressman to be gaming the timing, location, notice, and duration of the meeting in a way that thwarts people's attendence or discourages them from coming. Particularly when our constitution and so many human lives are at stake."

A spokesman for Welch said the congressman is open to changing the time, but believes the Hartford location is easily accessible for Vermonters coming in from different parts of the state.

"This reaction was puzzling. We had already responded positively to the desire to hold a town meeting in a geographically central location and during a time when more Vermonters are able to attend. We are happy to further accommodate by beginning the meeting at 11 a.m. if that ensures a higher turnout," said Andrew Savage, a Welch spokesman. "Congressman Welch looks forward to hearing from Vermonters who want to voice their opinion on this issue."

 

Bistro Sauce

Impeachment town meeting to be held in Hartford

WASHINGTON — Rep. Peter Welch, D-VT, will host a statewide town meeting on whether Pres. George W. Bush and Vice Pres. Dick Cheney should be impeached.

The 9 a.m. forum will be held at the Hartford High School. The meeting is expected to last an hour. Welch will offer some opening and closing remarks, but plans to leave as much time as possible for Vermonters to speak on the issue.

Hosting such a meeting was one of the requests several impeachment activists had of Welch during a brief meeting on May 5 in White River Junction.

Welch is cool to the idea of introducing a bill calling for impeachment investigations of Bush and Cheney, or to even lend his name to a current bill authored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-OH, that calls for such a probe of Cheney’s actions.

Despite his reluctance to push impeachment, a Welch spokesman said the state’s lone House member is open to hearing from Vermonters on the topic.

"At every corner, Congress is methodically peeling back the layers of deception and deceit, holding this administration accountable. Congressman Welch is committed to finding the facts and following the facts,” said Andrew Savage, Welch’s communication director. "He encourages any Vermonter with an opinion on impeachment to attend. He looks forward to listening.”

Welch believes impeachment hearings in the House would rally GOP support to Bush at a time when it could be on the wane, especially in support of Bush’s war strategy.

Welch earlier this year backed a bill to continue funding the war at $125 billion, but with the caveat that troops would be withdrawn in September 2008. Welch has said he will not support a war funding bill that does not include a timetable to withdraw troops from the region.

Welch, who serves on both the powerful Rules and the House Government Oversight and Reform committees, said he thinks the current investigations conducted by the latter panel need to run their course before impeachment charges are filed.

Welch said the current investigations on everything from the war to the firing of U.S. attorneys are potentially the beginning of further action, not the end. He said the current probes into the Bush administration are akin to the congressional investigations into the Nixon administration.

A growing number of Vermonters have shown an increasing interest in pushing for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney.

On April 20, the state Senate voted 16-9 in favor of Congress launching an impeachment probe into Bush and Cheney’s actions. Less than a week later, the House defeated a similar measure 87-60 while nearly 400 supporters watched.

Earlier this year, 40 towns — including Welch’s hometown of Hartland — passed resolutions calling on Congress to begin impeachment proceedings. Seven towns last year passed similar resolutions.

Posted May 8, 2007

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