Of all 435 members of the House of Representatives, Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., has a unique claim to being an expert on impeachment: He was impeached when he was a federal judge.
After the Senate convicted him and removed him from office in 1989, Hastings went back to Florida and successfully ran for a House seat. Now, claiming he is "the most experienced person here" on impeachment issues, Hastings took to the House floor Friday to introduce his own impeachment resolution - against independent counsel Kenneth Starr."Mr. Starr has violated his oath of office and committed high crimes and misdemeanors against the Constitution," said Hastings, a staunch defender of President Clinton's.
"For the good of the country, and the protection of the Constitution and the rule of law, Mr. Starr must be called to account and removed from his position."
As grounds for impeachment, Hastings cited leaks from Starr's office, spending $40 million on "an investigation that he knew could not justify such extraordinary expenditures" and embarrassing the United States "before the international community."
Hastings said he has not discussed impeachment with Clinton, nor did he consult anyone in the White House before filing his resolution that Starr should be impeached.
"I don't think such a conversation will take place," he said. Had one taken place last month, however, Hastings said he would have advised Clinton not to appear before the Starr grand jury, which he did Aug. 17.
"You are a high-profile person that may be charged with a crime, and you're going into a prosecutor's playhouse," Hastings said. "I would have said that to him."
In October 1989, then-U.S. District Judge Alcee Hastings of Miami was removed from the bench by a 69-26 vote in the Senate. He had been nominated for the judgeship by President Jimmy Carter in 1979.
His Senate conviction came two months after the House voted to impeach him on charges participating in a 1981 scheme to lighten the sentences of two racketeers in exchange for $150,000. Hastings denied wrongdoing and, in fact, was acquitted of bribery charges in a 1983 criminal trial.
Hastings said he hoped his Starr resolution would lead the House to "slow down a moment. I'm motivated and driven by the fact that this process must be made to be fairer than it is."