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Texas Matters: Rep. Jack Brooks And The Power Of Impeachment

The scene is a Washington D.C. in turmoil. There’s a "constitutional crisis" with a president who argues the law doesn’t apply to him. He ignores congressional subpoenas and is abusing the power of the executive branch for personal and political gain. If Congress doesn’t rise to the challenge and assert itself as a constitutionally empowered co-equal branch of the government, it could mean the end of "checks and balances" and the dawning 0f the imperial president with virtually unlimited power.

This was the situation in 1974. Many in Congress feared the power and the popularity of President Richard Nixon. But not the congressman from Beaumont, Texas: Jack Brooks. The Democrat demanded that Congress stand up to Nixon. Brooks was a leader in the congressional investigation into the Watergate scandal. He drafted the articles of impeachment later adopted by the House Judiciary Committee. This is why Nixon called Brooks his “executioner.”

Brooks’ legacy with that constitutional crisis is remembered today as current presidential scandals and stand-offs with Congress become incredibly similar to the Nixon era. A new biography of Jack Brooks details the drive of the congressman to investigate, provide oversight and correct injustice in Washington and across the nation.

Brendan McNulty co-authored the book with Timothy McNulty – it’s titled The Meanest Man in Congress: Jack Brooks and the Making of an American Century.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi