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Citing Virginia race scandals, Dem vows vote to impeach Trump

One of President TrumpDonald TrumpSacha Baron Cohen calls out 'danger of lies, hate and conspiracies' in Golden Globes speech Sorkin uses Abbie Hoffman quote to condemn Capitol violence: Democracy is 'something you do' Ex-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress MORE's sharpest congressional critics on Thursday vowed to force a House vote to impeach the president, citing the race-related scandals facing top Virginia lawmakers to argue Congress's responsibility to fight bigotry — “starting at the top.” 

Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenBiden pledges support for Texas amid recovery from winter storm Biden turns focus to winter storm with Texas trip LIVE COVERAGE: Senate opens Trump's second impeachment trial MORE (D-Texas) said the refusal of both Virginia's governor, Ralph Northam (D), and the state's attorney general, Mark Herring (D), to resign after admissions of wearing blackface in the past "is but a symptom of a greater syndrome that currently plagues our country as a result of not acting on President Trump’s bigotry." 

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Green argued that the pair has been emboldened "to a great extent because the Trump presidency has sent a message that you can be immune to the consequences of bigotry, by daring those with the authority and power to constitutionally remove you from office."

"We no longer stare bigotry down; bigotry now stares us down," Green said in a statement, released late Thursday night. "Further, an argument that Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring should resign will subject us to accusations of political hypocrisy if we refuse to take on a bigoted president."

Green introduced articles of impeachment against Trump in the last Congress, forcing floor votes on the measure twice against the wishes of Democratic leaders. The first, in December of 2017, was supported by 58 Democrats.

That number rose to 66 in January of 2018 — a rise attributed to Trump’s derogatory comments about Haiti, El Salvador and some African countries made just a week before that second vote.

Green's articles accused the president of inciting racial divisions across the country, pointing as evidence to Trump's ban on travelers from several predominately Muslim countries and the president's equivocal response to racist violence in Charlottesville, Va., in the summer of 2017, among other incidents.  

Green did not indicate when he would force a third vote. 

The effort will pose a headache for Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump shows he holds stranglehold on GOP, media in CPAC barnburner Biden brings back bipartisan meetings at the White House McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders, who have sought to tamp down impeachment efforts in their ranks. The leaders have argued the need to build public support for such a step and to allow special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE the time needed to wrap up his long-running probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to sway the 2016 election results. Efforts to oust the president before then, the leaders argue, would only politicize Mueller's findings.

“The Clinton impeachment was totally political and wrong,” House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse set for tight vote on COVID-19 relief package Key Democrat unveils plan to restore limited earmarks Overnight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission MORE (D-Md.) said last week. “As a result, I think we’re being prudent and careful, and we’ll see what Mueller has to say.” 

Green has dismissed that argument, noting that the Mueller probe "is unrelated to bigotry."

The scandals facing the top Virginia lawmakers have stunned the state and put Democrats — in both Virginia and Congress — on the defensive as they seek the appropriate response. 

Northam is under fire for his association with a racist photograph in his 1984 medical school yearbook. And Herring is fighting for political survival after he revealed that he dressed in blackface as an undergraduate college student in 1980.

Separately, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) is facing allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 — a charge he vehemently denies.

Virginia's Democratic delegation released a joint statement Thursday night amplifying their earlier calls for Northam to resign. They have not demanded the same from Herring, instead urging the embattled attorney general to continue his "in-depth discussions with leaders and others in Virginia" and to "stand ready to answer questions from the public if he is to regain their trust."

Green on Thursday made clear he thinks that's not enough. 

“The remedy must be more than talking points about a much-needed conversation concerning bigotry," he said in arguing to impeach Trump. 

"We cannot allow bigotry to go unchecked.”