House Dems introduce articles of impeachment against Trump
Six House Democrats on Wednesday launched the latest official effort to oust President Trump, introducing five new articles of impeachment revolving around the central theme that the president is a danger to the country.
“Given the magnitude of the constitutional crisis, there’s no reason for delay,” said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), the sponsor of the resolution.
Joining Cohen in endorsing the articles are Democratic Reps. Luis Gutiérrez (Ill.), Al Green (Texas), Marcia Fudge (Ohio), John Yarmuth (Ky.) and Adriano Espaillat (N.Y.).
The lawmakers pointed to numerous actions by Trump they say make him unfit to be president, but they singled out five actions they say rise to a level meriting impeachment.
Among those, the lawmakers say Trump obstructed justice when he fired former FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the federal investigation into Moscow’s 2016 election meddling — a probe that has included questions of potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign team.
They’re also accusing Trump of violating the foreign emoluments clause, which bars public officials from receiving gifts from foreign governments without Congress’s consent, and the domestic emoluments clause, which bars the president from profiting from his office.
Finally, the Democrats say the president has undermined two of the country’s central institutions — the courts and the press — in ways that threaten the health of the nation’s democracy.
The impeachment clause, Green said, “was drafted for a time such as this and a president such as this.”
Green had introduced impeachment articles of his own last month, largely focused on accusations that Trump has sown racial and ethnic divisions throughout the country.
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) has also launched an impeachment effort based on the Comey firing. He did not join Cohen’s effort Wednesday, though Cohen said there are others who will sign on “immediately or soon thereafter.” He did not name those lawmakers.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) called the Democrats’ move Wednesday a “baseless radical effort” and vowed that it won’t distract from the president’s agenda.
“House Democrats lack a positive message and are completely unwilling to work across the aisle, so instead they’ve decided to support a baseless radical effort that the vast majority of Americans disagree with,” said RNC spokesman Michael Ahrens.
“Republicans are focused on issues the middle class actually cares about, like cutting taxes and growing the economy,” he added.
Championed by a small number of vocal and liberal Democrats, the impeachment push has caused a good deal of discord within the Democratic Caucus.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the minority whip, have both been public voices opposing impeachment, framing the effort as premature amid the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russia’s election interference.
“Do we disagree with the policies? We do. But disagreeing with the policies is not enough to overturn an election, a free and fair election,” Hoyer told reporters in the Capitol shortly after Cohen’s news conference.
“There are a large number of Democrats that believe this president ought to be impeached, we have just a made a judgment that the facts aren’t there to pursue that,” he said.
There are also political reasons for the leadership’s efforts to mute the impeachment drum. The Democrats had centered their 2016 campaign largely around attacks on Trump — a strategy that backfired — and the party brass doesn’t want to repeat the same mistake heading into the 2018 midterm elections.
Cohen acknowledged that a number of Democrats simply “want Trump to hang himself, and think that we don’t need to help him.”
“But I think there are a great number of Democrats who think there have been impeachable offenses,” he said. “I think the majority of Democrats think that.”
Cohen said he called Pelosi immediately after Trump’s response to the white supremacist marches in Charlottesville, Va., in August to relay his intention to push for impeachment. He acknowledged that party leaders weren’t thrilled with the idea.
“It would be a stretch to say they were on board,” Cohen said.
Still, Cohen, who is Jewish, said the attacks on black people and Jews in Charlottesville were, for him, a bridge too far.
“I said, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ And [Pelosi] understands that,” he said.
The impeachment proponents have been encouraged by liberal activists urging Capitol Hill Democrats to get more aggressive in their efforts to topple Trump.
Tom Steyer, the billionaire environmentalist, is spending millions of dollars on national TV ads pressing Democratic leaders to get on board. The Democrats introducing the new impeachment articles on Wednesday seem to have taken notice.
“This is not a call in a vacuum,” said Espaillat. “There is a real sentiment in the nation for this to begin.”
Cohen said he’s not seeking a vote on his resolution, but only urging hearings from the Judiciary Committee.
With Republicans controlling the chamber, those entreaties will surely go ignored, but Cohen said that won’t stop the Democrats from staging expert-based forums on the issue — with or without the Republicans.
“It’s important that we not let the failure of the Republicans stop us from doing what is right,” Cohen said.
Jonathan Easley contributed to this report, which was updated at 12:12 p.m.