Move to Censure Bush Takes Small Steps Forward

ByABC News
March 31, 2006, 9:35 PM

March 31, 2006 -- -- After a hearing today on the subject, the Senate Democrat pushing for the censure of President Bush walked around the witness table and greeted his star witness: former Nixon general counsel, Watergate pariah and convicted felon John Dean.

No stranger to executives over-reaching their power, Dean has come out in support of Sen. Russell Feingold's, D-Wis., resolution to censure the president over his controversial domestic spying program.

It was the first congressional testimony since 1974 for Dean, who presented an argument for impeaching Bush in a recent book. He said today that Congress could have prevented Watergate by censuring President Nixon before the scandal reached its apex.

But if senators' attendance at Feingold's hearing is an indication, Democrats remain largely skittish about the measure.

The five witnesses at today's hearing outnumbered Democrats there, which included Feingold himself. Sen. Herb Kohl, Feingold's Democratic colleague from Wisconsin, started the hearing and listened to some of the opening statements, but left without saying a word.

Feingold brushed off the poor showing, saying it was Friday, when senators typically head home for the weekend, and there were no votes scheduled on the floor. There were only five Republicans present at the hearing, in addition to the three Democrats.

The number of Democrats publicly supporting censure climbed today, with Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, coming out in favor of Feingold's resolution.

"I have no hesitation in condemning the president for secretly and systematically violating the laws of the United States of America," Leahy said today in his opening statement. "I have no doubt that such a conclusion will be history's verdict. History will evaluate how diligently the Republican-controlled Congress performed the oversight duties envisioned by the founders. As of this moment, history's judgment of the diligence and resolve of the Republican-controlled Congress is unlikely to be kind."