Some Dem chairmen have changed tune on Trump impeachment

House Democratic chairmen who cast votes in favor of impeaching President TrumpDonald John TrumpMilitary personnel to handle coronavirus patients at facilities in NYC, New Orleans and Dallas Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort has total of 20 patients: report Fauci says that all states should have stay-at-home orders MORE while Republicans controlled the chamber now say it’s too soon to hit the gas on starting impeachment proceedings. 

The senior Democratic lawmakers, who voted in favor of impeachment articles from Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenOvernight Energy: Iconic national parks close over coronavirus concerns | New EPA order limits telework post-pandemic | Lawmakers urge help for oil and gas workers Bipartisan lawmakers urge assistance for oil and gas workers Lawmakers shame ex-Wells Fargo directors for failing to reboot bank MORE (D-Texas) in the last Congress, are largely toeing their leadership’s line of caution, saying committees should move forward with investigations of Trump.  

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The committee leaders who voted in favor of Green's impeachment articles in 2017 and 2018 either once or both times include Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelHillicon Valley: Facebook reports huge spike in usage during pandemic | Democrats push for mail-in voting funds in coronavirus stimulus | Trump delays deadline to acquire REAL ID Lawmakers urge EU to sanction Putin associate for election interference Democrats press Pompeo to help Americans stranded abroad amid coronavirus MORE (N.Y.), Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonPelosi forms House committee to oversee coronavirus response Democrats introduce bill to set up commission to review coronavirus response Hillicon Valley: HHS hit by cyberattack amid coronavirus outbreak | Senators urge FCC to shore up internet access for students | Sanders ramps up Facebook ad spending | Dems ask DHS to delay Real ID deadline MORE (Miss.), Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (Mass.), Science Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice JohnsonEddie Bernice JohnsonTexas House Dems ask governor to issue stay-at-home order Hillicon Valley: Democrats in talks to bridge surveillance divide | DHS confident in Super Tuesday election security | State pledges M cyber help to Ukraine | Facebook skipping SXSW amid coronavirus Markey presses facial recognition company over Middle Eastern marketing, potential child privacy violations MORE (Texas), Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneOvernight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments Obstacles remain for deal on surprise medical bills This week: House impeachment inquiry hits crucial stretch MORE (N.J.), Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (N.Y.) and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.).

Engel and Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersOvernight Health Care: White House projects grim death toll from coronavirus | Trump warns of 'painful' weeks ahead | US surpasses China in official virus deaths | CDC says 25 percent of cases never show symptoms Democrats, Trump set to battle over implementing T relief bill Maxine Waters unleashes over Trump COVID-19 response: 'Stop congratulating yourself! You're a failure' MORE (D-Calif.) are both leading investigations of Trump; Waters is notable in having called for Trump’s impeachment before and after the release of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE’s report.

Engel, who backed impeachment in separate votes in 2017 and 2018, echoed Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNJ governor calls for assessment of coronavirus response after crisis abates Overnight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims Hillicon Valley: Zoom draws new scrutiny amid virus fallout | Dems step up push for mail-in voting | Google to lift ban on political ads referencing coronavirus MORE (D-Calif.) during a conference call earlier this week with Democrats.

Engel said that Democrats “should be cautious” with impeachment, according to a source on the call, while explaining how his panel is investigating Russian interference.

“We need to look at this bizarre relationship between Putin and Trump,” Engel said during the call.

He added that he’s directing staff to inform foreign governments that do business with Trump hotels that they may be contributing to a violation of the Constitution's Emoluments Clause, which is an issue that progressives like billionaire activist Tom SteyerTom SteyerProgressive advocates propose T 'green stimulus' plan Candidates want data privacy rules, except for their own campaigns Budowsky: Biden should pull together a 'dream team of rivals' MORE have cited in calling for impeachment. 

Johnson, who also voted in favor of Green’s impeachment resolution, took a similar tack.

“Impeachment is a sacred constitutional responsibility entrusted to Congress. I am committed to continuing to conduct oversight into the president’s conduct and wrongdoing as well as serving as a check on the president. This is what House Democrats were elected into the majority to do, and this is what we will do while Senate Republicans repeatedly show that they are willing to look the other way,” Johnson said in a statement. 

McGovern deferred to the Judiciary Committee but didn't rule out the prospect of impeachment.

"He trusts Chairman [Jerrold] Nadler’s leadership on this issue. But given Special Counsel Mueller’s report and the president’s continued stonewalling of Congressional oversight requests, he doesn’t believe any options should be taken off the table," McGovern spokesman Matt Bonaccorsi said.

Two members of Democratic leadership who, like Green, are members of the Congressional Black Caucus, at one point or another supported the efforts. Green alleged in his articles of impeachment that Trump was inflaming racial tensions in America.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) voted in favor of Green's articles of impeachment in 2017 but joined other Democratic leaders the second time in voting to table them. The votes forced by Green drew the support of 58 Democrats the first time and 66 a month later, but the majority of his colleagues joined leadership in rejecting the efforts.

“His vote in 2017 was to express his disapproval of the president on the record,” Clyburn spokeswoman Hope Derrick said.

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House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesPelosi says House will review Senate coronavirus stimulus package Pelosi says House will draft its own coronavirus funding bill Senate closes in on trillion-dollar coronavirus stimulus bill MORE (D-N.Y.), voted to table Green's articles the first time but voted in favor of them in January 2018 after Trump came under fire for deriding protections for immigrants from “shithole” African countries.

Democratic chairmen face some pressure to back Pelosi, who has argued it would be unwise to move forward with impeachment given the likelihood that the Republican Senate would not convict Trump. Pelosi also remembers how impeachment boomeranged on House Republicans in the Clinton era.

Most of the calls to move forward on impeachment have come from liberal members of the Democratic caucus. Pelosi is worried impeachment could be used by Republicans against many of the vulnerable Democrats who won swing districts in 2018.

Waters is one committee chair who backed Green’s call for impeachment when Democrats were in the minority, and has kept her position in the majority.

In the wake of Mueller’s report, she said she still supports impeachment. 

“Mueller kicked the impeachment ball to the Congress. The Constitution gives the responsibility to Congress to impeach an unfit president — 'high crimes and misdemeanors.' What more do we need? #impeach45,” Waters wrote in a series of tweets this week. 

She also made a point of noting that impeachment is in House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerHouse Judiciary Committee postpones hearing with Barr amid coronavirus outbreak House Democrats plead with key committee chairman to allow remote voting amid coronavirus pandemic Pelosi rejects calls to shutter Capitol: 'We are the captains of this ship' MORE's (D-N.Y.) court, writing that “Dems divided. The impeachment resolution must start with & be taken up by the Judiciary Committee. Rep. Nadler is the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.”

Nadler, as well as Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsMaryland postpones primary over coronavirus fears Maryland governor: 'Simply not enough supplies' on hand to tackle coronavirus Meadows joins White House facing reelection challenges MORE (D-Md.) and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffPelosi forms House committee to oversee coronavirus response 5 reasons Democrats fear Trump's coronavirus briefings Democrats introduce bill to set up commission to review coronavirus response MORE (D-Calif.), did not vote in favor of Green's efforts.

Thompson, meanwhile, notably retweeted a message from Green last week calling for impeachment. A spokesman for Thompson did not return requests for comment.

Other committee leaders who voted in favor of Green's articles in the past avoided mentioning the word impeachment at all when reacting to the release of Mueller's report and instead joined calls for the full, unredacted version of the special counsel's findings. Both Pallone and Velazquez cast doubt on Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrFeds distributing masks, other gear seized in price-gouging investigation to NY, NJ health care workers The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - All eyes on today's unemployment numbers Trump announces enhanced counternarcotics operation at coronavirus briefing MORE and said they wanted to see Mueller testify before Congress.

Grijalva, meanwhile, indicated that impeachment isn't a realistic option compared to asking voters to make the decision whether to oust Trump.

“Election time is when you beat Trump,” Grijalva told Politico.

Green told The Hill that he's waiting to see what the Judiciary Committee does next before forcing a third vote on impeachment, which he’s threatened since February. 

Green has cosponsored articles of impeachment from Rep. Brad ShermanBradley (Brad) James ShermanPelosi scrambles to secure quick passage of coronavirus aid House Democrats eyeing much broader Phase 3 stimulus Overnight Defense: Lawmakers clash during Pompeo hearing on Iran | Trump touts Taliban deal ahead of signing | Trump sued over plan to use Pentagon funds for border wall MORE (D-Calif.) arguing that Trump obstructed justice by firing James ComeyJames Brien ComeyIs coronavirus the final Trump crisis? Full appeals court to rehear case over McGahn subpoena Tucker Carlson: Biden's 'fading intellect' an 'opportunity' for Democrats to control him MORE as FBI director as well as a resolution from Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibDemocrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus 20 House Dems call on Trump to issue two-week, nationwide shelter-in-place order Pressley, Tlaib introduce bill providing .5B in emergency grants for the homeless MORE (D-Mich.) calling on the House Judiciary Committee to investigate whether Trump has committed impeachable offenses. But Green has yet to unveil a new impeachment resolution of his own this year.

“I'm going to give the committee an opportunity to act,” Green said in a phone interview. “But if the committee doesn't act, I'm not going to let my record show that a president who was unfit, who has obstructed justice, is above the law.”

Green said that he's not lobbying colleagues on impeachment, saying that “under these circumstances, it is better to stand alone than not stand at all.”

Scott Wong contributed.