WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Democratic lawmaker opposed to the Iraq war initiated a bid on Tuesday to remove Vice President Dick Cheney from office that even his own party leaders dismissed as futile.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio introduced three articles of impeachment in the Democratic-led House of Representatives against Cheney, accusing him of having misled the country into its 2003 invasion of Iraq and, more recently, threatening Iran without cause.
“I believe the vice president’s conduct of office has been destructive to the founding purposes of our nation,” said Kucinich, who is making a long-shot bid for the White House.
Shortly after Democrats took control of Congress in January from Bush’s Republicans, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would not consider impeachment, a highly divisive issue that could tie Capitol Hill into knots.
“Nothing has changed. It’s off the table,” said Nadeam Elshami, a Pelosi spokesman. “We’re focusing on tough issues like bringing the war in Iraq to a responsible end.”
Kucinich offered his impeachment resolutions without any co-sponsors. But he insisted he did not stand alone.
“I believe that I stand with millions of Americans who have expressed concern ... that something has to be done to reclaim our country’s goodness,” said Kucinich, who has become a hero in some liberal circles for his strident voice against the Iraq war.
Yet he is far behind in a pack of more than a half dozen Democrats seeking their party’s 2008 presidential nomination, scoring in the single digits in public opinion polls.
The Ohio Democrat rejected suggestions he introduced the articles of impeachment to give his campaign a boost.
“These articles are about the conduct of the vice president,” Kucinich said. “That’s what this is about.”
But House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio said, “It’s nothing but pure politics.”
According to the House historical office, no vice president has ever been impeached.
But the House has impeached two presidents -- Bill Clinton in 1998 on charges of lying about an affair with an intern, and Andrew Johnson in 1868 on charges of improperly removing a member of his Cabinet. Both were acquitted in Senate trials.
Additional reporting by Richard Cowan