Call for Trump impeachment puts pressure on top Dems

Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenImpeachment calls grow louder Pelosi called Dem mega-donor's 'Impeach Trump' campaign a 'distraction': report Dems to file new impeachment articles against Trump MORE (D-Texas) on Tuesday threatened to force a House floor vote next week on impeaching President Trump, creating a new dilemma for his party’s leaders.

Green said he would file an impeachment resolution next week while condemning  Trump’s attacks on NFL players who have kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality.

Because the resolution is considered privileged under House rules, it would automatically force action on the House floor within two days.

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While House Republicans would presumably reject the resolution, Green could still force a procedural vote that would put his colleagues on the spot on impeachment.

“I rise to say to the world that this is not what America is all about,” Green said during a House floor speech on Tuesday as he condemned Trump’s attacks on athletes.

“I will stand here in the well of the Congress, and I will call for the impeachment of the president of the United States of America,” he said.

Green did not say what the exact argument for impeachment in his resolution will be and declined to offer specific details.

Democrats have had no problem criticizing Trump, but most have stopped well short of calls for impeachment, worried it could backfire on them as it did on Bill ClintonBill ClintonTop Oversight Dem pushes back on Uranium One probe Bill Clinton hits Trump, tax reform plan in Georgetown speech The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE-era Republicans.

Most rank-and-file Democrats worry that rushing to endorse impeachment proceedings would look like an overreach.

Impeachment proceedings have traditionally begun in the House Judiciary Committee, which would hold hearings and vote on articles to remove a president before sending them to the full chamber for consideration.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, said, “We’re not there yet” even though he thinks Trump has done “really terrible things.”

Nadler is hardly the kind of Democrat who would have to worry about an impeachment vote alienating swing voters back home: Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP rushes to cut ties to Moore Papadopoulos was in regular contact with Stephen Miller, helped edit Trump speech: report Bannon jokes Clinton got her ‘ass kicked’ in 2016 election MORE won 78 percent of his Manhattan-area district in 2016.

“I don’t want to vote on impeachment. I think it’s too early. We don’t have the evidence; we don’t have the case,” Nadler told The Hill. 

Nadler said he could not support an impeachment resolution if it were brought to the floor next week. Forcing a vote on impeachment now could make it harder for Democrats to justify a case in the future if events warranted, he warned. 

“You don’t want to discredit it by voting for impeachment resolutions before you have the facts,” Nadler said.

Even Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), a vocal Trump critic who has also called for impeachment, declined to say how she would vote if Green’s resolution came to the floor. 

But she added: “At some point in time, impeachment is inevitable.”

Green isn’t the first Democrat to raise the possibility of forcing a vote on impeachment. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) suggested over the summer that he might force a vote on his article of impeachment alleging that Trump obstructed justice by firing James Comey as FBI director amid the agency’s investigation of potential collusion with the Russian government.

Sherman at the time faced pushback from Democrats who warned that forcing a vote on impeachment could hurt fellow Democrats and candidates trying to unseat Republicans in swing districts. 

Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), who was among the Democrats to raise objections at the time, reiterated Tuesday that any lawmaker seeking to force a vote on impeachment should consult the rest of the caucus.

“I think that anybody who’s going to bring something like that to the floor has an obligation to talk to his colleagues before he does it,” Capuano said.

Only a handful of Democrats have endorsed impeaching Trump. Green signed on to the article of impeachment filed by Sherman in July, which remains the only measure introduced in Congress to remove Trump from office.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) endorsed censuring Trump after he gave an equivocating response to the violent clashes between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Va., last month. But she has been careful to distance herself from impeachment efforts, saying that Democrats should wait for a full accounting of Russia’s role in the 2016 election and focus on other legislative efforts in the meantime.

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) announced in August that he would file articles of impeachment in response to Trump’s handling of the events in Charlottesville. Cohen has not yet followed through on introducing an impeachment measure, but said Tuesday he planned to do so sooner rather than later.