House will have to vote on impeaching Trump, regardless of Pelosi’s opposition

Texas Rep. Al Green says he’ll force a vote on impeachment, as he did twice when Democrats were in minority

Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, plans to force the House to vote on impeaching President Donald Trump over Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s objections. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, plans to force the House to vote on impeaching President Donald Trump over Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s objections. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted March 12, 2019 at 9:04am

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s opposition to impeaching President Donald Trump won’t stop a House vote on the issue, as Texas Democratic Rep. Al Green intends to force one again like he twice did when Republicans held the majority.

“I’m going to bring it the floor of the House again,” Green said Tuesday morning on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” He declined to say when he plans to take action, saying, “The acid test is one that does not carry with it a specific date.”

Green at any time can file articles of impeachment against Trump as a privileged resolution, which would trigger a two-day time clock in which the House has to consider the matter.

Democratic leadership could then move to table the resolution, as Republicans did the two times Green took such action last Congress.

Both motions to table succeeded with bipartisan support to prevent an up or down vote on impeachment. But dozens of Democrats joined Green in voting against the motion to table — 58 on Dec. 6, 2017 and 66 on Jan. 18, 2018 — a sign that they wanted to vote on the impeachment resolution and likely would’ve supported it. 

Green’s comments to C-SPAN about forcing another vote on impeaching Trump — the first with Democrats in the majority — comes after Pelosi told the Washington Post in an interview published Monday that she is “not for impeachment.” However, Green had already committed in a statement early last month that he would trigger a third House vote on the matter.

“Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country,” Pelosi told the Post. “And he’s just not worth it.”

In the same interview, Pelosi said Trump is not fit to be the president of the United States — “I mean, ethically unfit. Intellectually unfit. Curiosity-wise unfit” — and she doesn’t believe he’ll be re-elected in 2020.

Green expressed frustration at “status quo” voices who admit Trump is unfit to serve as president but refuse to take action.

“It’s really about whether or not we are going to tolerate and continue to allow an unfit president to be in office,” he said. “Let’s just address the comments about is he worth it. This is something I’ve heard before. … But it’s not about him. It’s not about Democrats. It’s about democracy.”

Green added: “The question we really have to ask ourselves is whether the country is worth it, whether what we stand for is worth it, whether our values are worth it.”

Long before her interview with the Post, Pelosi has been saying that any effort to impeach Trump must be bipartisan. So, too, has Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York, whose panel has jurisdiction to conduct impeachment proceedings.

Green disagrees, saying “recalcitrant” Republicans “who’ve already decided that they won’t impeach the president regardless of what he does” shouldn’t be an obstacle to moving forward.

“We didn’t elect a majority of Democrats to the House to allow Republicans to determine the fate of the country,” he said. “We are there for a reason.”

‘We will all go on record’

Whenever Green calls up articles of impeachment and asks for a vote, it’s likely to divide the Democratic Caucus. So if Pelosi was trying to provide centrist Democrats, particularly ones who hail from districts Trump won in 2016, political cover — as some have surmised — it might all be for naught.

“We will all go on record,” Green said. “Everybody do what you may. I don’t believe that we should lobby people and whip people as we captured it in Congress. I think we ought to vote [our] convictions. History will be there to judge us all.”

While a motion to table, if that’s how Democratic leaders decide to proceed, is not a direct vote on impeachment, political strategists will treat it as such and craft ads surrounding how vulnerable members vote.

Green has yet to introduce articles of impeachment against Trump this Congress, but Rep. Brad Sherman has and Green is the only co-sponsor. 

Sherman, despite personally believing Trump should be impeached, actually agrees more with Pelosi than Green about voting on the matter.

“I do not think we can actually remove him from office until we can convince the country,“ the California Democrat told reporters Monday evening. “We convinced about half the country but we don’t have the two-thirds of the country that we would need. We do not have the level of support we had with Richard Nixon. And even Richard Nixon, only a third of the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee voted to impeach.”

Still, Sherman feels that Trump has committed crimes that meet the legal standard for impeachment. And he believes that his and others’ efforts to highlight that has actually prevented Trump from committing more crimes.

“If we hadn’t talked about impeachment, God knows what he would have done,” Sherman said. “He has to think about impeachment a little bit. And I am sure that there are twenty truly ugly things that crossed his mind that he didn’t do precisely because we talked about it.”

Besides Green and Sherman, the only other member who introduced articles of impeachment against Trump last Congress was Rep. Steve Cohen. The Tennessee Democrat said he hasn’t done so this session “because I don’t think the votes are anywhere near being there.”

“There’s only a handful of Republicans that would do anything that is questionable of Trump even if he did the gun to the head of somebody on Fifth Avenue that he’s talked about,” Cohen told reporters Monday night. “So until they realize that — some evidence comes out that’s akin to a smoking gun, they may not change. But if they change and they see their Senate majority being in danger in 2020 if they continue to be lemmings who follow him toward the cliff — and they see that — then it might be a different situation.”

Regardless of whether Republicans get on board, Cohen sees the investigatory work the Judiciary Committee is doing as a “precursor to impeachment” that will eventually lead to that outcome.

“I think they will expose a lot of the illegal, corrupt and crimes that this president — that I believe that [have] existed and there will be sufficient proof to show that,” he said. “And if they do produce that, then I think it will almost be inevitable that we’ll have to go there because the Judiciary Committee has to protect the Constitution.”

A freshmen Democrat is also joining the impeachment movement. Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who said last week that she’s planning to introduce articles of impeachment against Trump this month, seemed to stay on that course after Pelosi’s comments.

“They always say represent your district. I’m representing my district,” she said Monday evening, the Washington Post reported.