House rejects Democrat's resolution to impeach Trump

The House on Wednesday rejected an effort to impeach President Trump in a vote that nonetheless pointed to growing support on the left for driving the president out of office.

In a 364-58 vote, lawmakers tabled an impeachment resolution from Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenMueller report poses new test for Dems George Conway calls for Congress to remove Trump: He's 'a cancer' Dems plan Monday call on Mueller report: 'Congress will not be silent' MORE (D-Texas). Every Republican voted with a majority of Democrats to turn away the resolution, while four Democrats voted "present." 

Yet despite the objections of their leadership, 58 Democrats voted in support of the resolution — an unexpectedly high tally, representing nearly one-third of the caucus. The group included lawmakers who haven’t necessarily been vocal about supporting impeachment. 

Green’s articles of impeachment did not allege Trump has specifically committed a crime. Instead, Green argued that Trump has “brought disrepute, contempt, ridicule and disgrace on the presidency” and “sown discord among the people of the United States.” 

ADVERTISEMENT

To back up Green’s assertion, the articles of impeachment cited Trump’s equivocating response to the violent clash between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Va.; retweets of anti-Muslim videos posted by a fringe British nationalist group; criticisms of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality; disparate treatment of hurricane victims in Puerto Rico compared to Texas and Florida; and personal attacks against Rep. Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonJuan Williams: Racial shifts spark fury in Trump and his base Dem behind impeachment push to boycott State of the Union Democrats seek to take on Trump at State of the Union MORE (D-Fla.), who, like Green, is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

House Democratic leaders made clear they don’t support impeachment at this point, citing the ongoing special counsel investigation into whether the Trump campaign was involved with the Russian government’s effort to influence the 2016 presidential election. 

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiBoth sides were wrong about Mueller report, and none of it will likely matter for 2020 Elijah Cummings: 'I am begging the American people to pay attention to what's going on' Angus King: 'Mueller passed the obstruction question to the Congress and Barr intercepted the pass' MORE (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller aftermath: What will House Dems do now? Mueller report poses new test for Dems Dem lawmaker: There isn't a crime Trump could commit that would cause GOP to turn on him MORE (D-Md.) voted to table Green's resolution. In a statement, they said there are "legitimate questions" about Trump's fitness for office, but that the ongoing investigations into Trump by congressional committees and the FBI need to play out.

"Right now, Congressional committees continue to be deeply engaged in investigations into the President’s actions both before and after his inauguration. The special counsel’s investigation is moving forward as well, and those inquiries should be allowed to continue."

"Now is not the time to consider articles of impeachment," they wrote.

Still, Democratic leaders did not whip rank-and-file members to vote a certain way on Green’s measure, aides said.

The four Democrats who voted "present" on tabling the resolution were Reps. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroDems attack Barr's credibility after report of White House briefings on Mueller findings Texas student says he lost military scholarship due to Trump's new transgender policy Big Dem names show little interest in Senate MORE (Texas), Marc VeaseyMarc Allison VeaseyThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump attacks on McCain rattle GOP senators Congressional Black Caucus faces tough decision on Harris, Booker Overnight Defense: VA pick breezes through confirmation hearing | House votes to move on defense bill negotiations | Senate bill would set 'stringent' oversight on North Korea talks MORE (Texas), Carol Shea-PorterCarol Shea-PorterThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority New Hampshire New Members 2019 Democrat Chris Pappas wins New Hampshire House seat MORE (N.H.) and Terri SewellTerrycina (Terri) Andrea SewellDems counter portrait of discord Congress should look into its own taxes and travel, not just Trump's To protect the vote, we must protect the courts MORE (Ala.). Trump won Shea-Porter's district in last year's election.

Green acknowledged that his effort to force an impeachment vote was facing opposition from fellow Democrats. But after pushing for Trump’s impeachment for months, he said he believes Congress needs to discuss the president’s fitness for office.

“May everyone vote their conscience knowing that history will judge us all,” Green wrote in a letter to fellow lawmakers on Tuesday.

Democrats voting in support of Green's resolution included lawmakers who haven't called for impeachment or who aren’t considered particularly left-wing.  

As recently as this summer, Rep. Michael CapuanoMichael (Mike) Everett CapuanoHillary Clinton celebrates Indivisible founders' inclusion on Time 100 list Progressive Dem lays into party over new policy: I'm really disappointed Progressives hammer DCCC over blacklist targeting primary challenges MORE (D-Mass.), a leadership ally, warned against forcing lawmakers to go on the record about impeachment. At the time, Rep. Brad ShermanBradley (Brad) James ShermanHouse Dem: Mueller report offers 'ample evidence' for impeachment Dems offer bill directing IRS to create free online tax filing service Secrecy behind Saudi nuclear talks infuriates Congress MORE (D-Calif.) had said he might force a vote on his article of impeachment, but never went through with it. 

But on Wednesday, Capuano voted against tabling Green's impeachment measure.

"Practically and politically, I think most of us can agree that passing articles of impeachment in this House isn’t realistic at this moment in our history. But sometimes, it’s more important to follow your heart than do the practical or political calculation," Capuano wrote in a Facebook post explaining his vote. 

Only one member of the House Democratic leadership hierarchy, Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (S.C.), voted in favor of Green's resolution. Many fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including its chairman, Rep. Cedric RichmondCedric Levon RichmondHillicon Valley: Facebook, Google face tough questions on white nationalism | Nielsen's exit raisers cyber worries | McConnell calls net neutrality bill 'dead on arrival' | Facebook changes terms for EU data Facebook, Google face tough questions over white nationalism Reparations bill wins new momentum in Congress MORE (D-La.), joined him. 

Rep. Keith EllisonKeith Maurice Ellison18 state attorneys general call on Justice Dept to release Mueller report Keith Ellison: Evidence points to Trump being 'sympathetic' to white nationalist point of view Trump: Media 'working overtime to blame me' for New Zealand attack MORE (D-Minn.), deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, also sided with Green. 

Green first unveiled a draft of his articles of impeachment in October, but refrained from triggering a vote at the time to allow the public to review them.

Under House rules, any member can offer a “privileged” resolution on the floor that must receive legislative action within two days. Green used that process to ensure a vote on impeachment. 

Other Democrats have also pushed for Trump’s impeachment this year, but unlike Green have not forced a vote on the issue.

Sherman introduced an article of impeachment in July alleging that Trump obstructed justice by firing James Comey as FBI director amid the investigation into Russia's election meddling.

And last month, a group of six Democrats unveiled articles of impeachment accusing Trump of obstructing justice by ousting Comey, violating the foreign emoluments clause barring public officials from receiving gifts from foreign governments without the consent of Congress and undermining the courts and the media.

That group of Democrats consisted of Green and Reps. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenDems attack Barr's credibility after report of White House briefings on Mueller findings Democrats, GOP poised to pounce on Mueller findings Lawmakers request information on reported pardon for acting DHS secretary MORE (Tenn.), Luis Gutiérrez (Ill.), Marcia FudgeMarcia Louise FudgeDems rally behind Omar as Trump escalates attacks Congressional Black Caucus faces tough decision on Harris, Booker Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee to step down as CBC Foundation chair amid lawsuit MORE (Ohio), John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthDivided Dems look to regroup On The Money — Presented by Job Creators Network — GOP senators urge Trump not to nominate Cain | Treasury expected to miss Dem deadline on Trump tax returns | Party divisions force Dems to scrap budget vote | House passes IRS reform bill Left-center divide forces Dems to scrap budget vote MORE (Ky.) and Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralHispanic Caucus asks for meeting with top immigration official New Zealand mosque killings raise fears among US Muslims On The Money: Trump issues first veto, warning of 'reckless' resolution | US hits Russia with new sanctions | Dems renew push for contractor back pay | Lawmakers seek probe into undocumented workers at Trump businesses MORE (N.Y.).

The Democratic divisions overshadowed the unanimous vote of Republicans, who have stood by Trump throughout his 11 months in office, despite nonstop controversies. 

“[Fifty-eight] members of Congress simply couldn’t resist the temptation to show their contempt of President Trump. Rather than working with civility to bridge their differences with the Administration, they just voted for his impeachment,” Rep. David McKinleyDavid Bennett McKinleyDivisions emerge over House drug price bills Key Republican says Dems left him out of process on drug pricing bills Representing patients’ voices MORE (R-W.Va.) wrote on Twitter. 

— This story was updated at 4:01 p.m.