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View Diary: What's Bush's game? (304 comments)

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  •  Doesn't it elide a key point to write off... (7+ / 0-)

    inherent contempt as "[n]ot a particularly helpful substitute when you're trying to avoid a trial before Congress [read: impeachment] in the first place"?

    Impeachment involves a trial before the Senate, where the threshold for conviction is 2/3 and there are 49 Republicans plus Lieberman to begin with (not to mention Tim Johnson out of action for the moment).  If I understand the procedure correctly, an inherent contempt proceeding with respect to a House committee subpoena only involves a trial before the House, and the threshold for "conviction" (that is, civil coercive imprisonment in the House jail) is a simple majority.

    So the key difference between inherent contempt at least with respect to a House subpoena, and impeachment, is that inherent contempt powers can theoretically be exercised without a single Republican vote.  While a "trial before Congress" in some sense of that phrase is indeed involved in both cases, this strikes me as a very significant distinction.

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