Democrat vows to move forward with impeachment, dividing his party

House Democrats are facing the prospect of another floor vote on impeaching President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Gosar's siblings pen op-ed urging for his resignation: 'You are immune to shame' Sunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate MORE, the first since they took control of the chamber.

Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenManchin meets with Texas lawmakers on voting rights Lawmakers roll out legislation to defend pipelines against cyber threats Bipartisan lawmakers call for action on anti-hate crime measures MORE (D-Texas) announced this past week that he will call for a third vote on impeachment that is sure to divide Democrats.

He previously forced House floor votes in 2017 and 2018, under a GOP-held House, that put fellow lawmakers on the record about impeachment.

This would be the first time the House would vote on impeachment under a Democratic House, and a decision to not move forward would invite criticism.

ADVERTISEMENT

Tom Steyer, the billionaire activist who has run nationwide ads urging Democrats to impeach Trump, has warned he’ll turn his fire on Democrats if they do not take action against the president.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiManchin on reported boos at Democratic luncheon: 'I heard a lot of nos' Kinzinger supports Jan. 6 panel subpoenas for Republicans, including McCarthy Ocasio-Cortez: Democrats can't blame GOP for end of eviction moratorium MORE (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerProgressives camp outside Capitol to protest evictions House adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban Top Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure MORE (D-Md.), however, have long signaled caution on the issue.

It’s clear they’re worried about doing anything on impeachment that might end up boomeranging on Democrats and helping Trump and the GOP. Both were in Congress when Republicans impeached former President Clinton, an effort that undercut the House GOP at the time.

Green's argument, as with his past impeachment efforts, is that Trump should be impeached for inflaming racial tensions in America. He linked Trump to the political crisis in Virginia, where Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is refusing to resign over a racist photo from his medical school yearbook page, and state Attorney General Mark Herring (D) has also admitted to once wearing blackface.

“I just wanted to make it clear that there's a necessity to do this because that behavior has infected the body politic to the extent that you have the behavior in the state of Virginia,” Green told The Hill.

House Democratic leaders and the majority of rank-and-file members are skeptical of pursuing impeachment before special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE completes his investigation. And Democratic leaders have taken pains to portray their investigative efforts of the Trump administration as serious and measured oversight.

Many Democrats therefore think that Green's effort feels premature.

“I don't think we have to go galloping into it. That we can take our time, analyze the situation, build the investigations and then make a determination,” Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) said of impeachment.

ADVERTISEMENT

Davis, who like Green is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, appeared sympathetic to the effort to highlight Trump's inflammation of racial tensions. But he isn't eager to vote on impeachment at this point.

“I'm certainly not in disagreement with Al's attempt to raise the issue and keep it raised. But you know, if I had to vote right now, I wouldn't be ready to vote on it,” Davis said.

Rep. Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyDOJ tells former Trump officials they can testify in Jan. 6 investigations: report Overnight Energy: Democrats request interview with Exxon lobbyist after undercover tapes | Biden EPA to reconsider Trump rollback on power plant pollution in 2022 | How climate change and human beings influence wildfires Democrats request interview with Exxon lobbyist after undercover tapes MORE (D-N.Y.), a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, echoed a desire to wait for Mueller's probe before pursuing impeachment. 

“We want to wait for the Mueller commission. We've got to see what he says,” Maloney said. “We worked hard to create it, let's wait for him to do his work.”

Green says he sees no reason to wait for the outcome of the Mueller probe.

“I wanted to make very clear that the Mueller investigation, which has nothing to do with bigotry, is not going to be the acid test for whether or not we will have another vote,” Green said. 

He has yet to introduce a resolution with articles of impeachment against Trump and declined to offer a specific timeline. He said only that “so far I've kept my word and I'm going to keep my word on this.”

Even Democrats who supported Green's impeachment efforts in the past are skeptical of voting on it for a third time, however.

Rep. Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyDemocrats repeal prohibition on funding abortions abroad Nearly 140 Democrats urge EPA to 'promptly' allow California to set its own vehicle pollution standards Omar reflects on personal experiences with hate in making case for new envoy MORE (D-Ill.), a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, voted in support of both of Green's impeachment measures in the last session of Congress “to sort of give validity to the conversation.”

As for the latest effort, Schakowsky said, “I am skeptical of its real value” given that it wouldn't pass in the GOP-controlled Senate.

“It's definitely a real tool that I think may emerge as a winning idea in the not-too-distant future. This moment, probably not,” Schakowsky said. 

A total of 58 Democrats voted in favor of Green's first impeachment effort in December 2017. That number grew to 66 a month later, after Trump had described Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations as “shithole countries” while expressing preference for immigrants from places like Norway.

One other House Democrat has already brought forward articles of impeachment since the new session of Congress began.

Rep. Brad ShermanBradley (Brad) James ShermanHow Congress can advance peace with North Korea Omar feuds with Jewish Democrats Lawmakers tout bipartisan support for resolution criticizing Iran's government MORE (D-Calif.) reintroduced his articles of impeachment on the first day of the new Congress last month, alleging that Trump had obstructed justice in the Russia investigation. Sherman initially unveiled his effort in 2017.

But other Democrats who called for impeachment in the last Congress haven't moved forward in the Democratic House. Rep. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenOmar leads lawmakers in calling for US envoy to combat Islamophobia Trump says being impeached twice didn't change him: 'I became worse' Five big questions about the Jan. 6 select committee MORE (D-Tenn.) has yet to reintroduce articles of impeachment that he pushed in the last session of Congress and said he wants to hold out for Mueller’s investigation.

“Those people, including myself, who think he’s committed impeachable offenses and should be impeached understand also the pragmatic politics of waiting for the report as proof to get more of the American public in agreement. Because you’ve got to have the American public on your side,” Cohen said recently. 

Green said that he had not consulted anyone in leadership or fellow colleagues about his latest impeachment effort. And he expressed no trepidation about moving forward without a majority in favor of his impeachment push, citing his lifelong experiences with racism.

“I lived through segregation. I drank from colored water fountains, I had to sit in the balcony at the movies, I had to sit at the back of the bus. My history has earned me the right to make this decision without consulting with anyone other than my belief that this problem, some 400 years old, has to be faced head-on,” Green said.

“I don't think I have to have anybody's permission after what I've gone through.”