Some Dem chairmen have changed tune on Trump impeachment

House Democratic chairmen who cast votes in favor of impeaching President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump pushes back on recent polling data, says internal numbers are 'strongest we've had so far' Illinois state lawmaker apologizes for photos depicting mock assassination of Trump Scaramucci assembling team of former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump 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. GreenDanish prime minister: Trump's idea to buy Greenland 'absurd'  Juan Williams: Democrats finally hit Trump where it hurts We need a climate plan for agriculture 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 EngelPelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid Democrats slam alleged politicization of Trump State Department after IG report Trump moves forward with F-16 sale to Taiwan opposed by China MORE (N.Y.), Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonHillicon Valley: House panel subpoenas 8chan owner | FCC takes step forward on T-Mobile-Sprint merger | Warren wants probe into FTC over Equifax settlement | Groups make new push to end surveillance program House Homeland Security Committee subpoenas 8chan owner What Mississippi ICE raids mean for vulnerable workers MORE (Miss.), Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (Mass.), Science Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice JohnsonEddie Bernice JohnsonThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump applauds two-year budget deal with 0 billion spending hike Overnight Energy: Historic heat wave is double whammy for climate change | Trump sees 'bigger problems' than plastic straws | House Science chair threatens EPA over 'stonewalled' answers Science committee chair threatens EPA over 'stonewalled' answers to lawmakers MORE (Texas), Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneLawmakers call on Trump to keep tech legal shield out of trade talks Hillicon Valley: FTC fines Facebook B in privacy settlement | Critics pan settlement as weak | Facebook also faces FTC antitrust probe | Senate panel advances 'deepfakes' legislation | House passes anti-robocall bill House passes anti-robocall bill 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 WatersF-bombs away: Why lawmakers are cursing now more than ever Banks give Congress, New York AG documents related to Russians who may have dealt with Trump: report Maxine Waters: Force us to ban assault weapons 'or kick our a--- out of Congress!' 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) Swan MuellerTrump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Kellyanne Conway: 'I'd like to know' if Mueller read his own report MORE’s report.

Engel, who backed impeachment in separate votes in 2017 and 2018, echoed Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiWhy President Trump needs to speak out on Hong Kong Anti-Trump vets join Steyer group in pressing Democrats to impeach Trump Pelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid 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 SteyerThomas (Tom) Fahr SteyerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump tries to reassure voters on economy Eight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall Biden, Buttigieg bypassing Democratic delegate meeting: report 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 JeffriesAnti-Trump vets join Steyer group in pressing Democrats to impeach Trump Appetite for Democratic term limits fizzling out Jeffries dismisses optics: We wanted testimony from Mueller, not Robert De Niro 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 NadlerGOP memo deflects some gun questions to 'violence from the left' House Democrats urge Trump to end deportations of Iraqis after diabetic man's death French officials call for investigation of Epstein 'links with France' 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 CummingsCan the Democrats unseat Trump? Democrats slam alleged politicization of Trump State Department after IG report Senior Trump officials accused of harassing, retaliating against career State Dept. employees MORE (D-Md.) and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffAre Democrats turning Trump-like? Schiff offers bill to make domestic terrorism a federal crime New intel chief inherits host of challenges 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 BarrCurrent and former prosecutors respond to Barr's 'concerning' comments on progressive DAs Attorney General Barr's license to kill Medical examiner confirms Epstein death by suicide 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 ShermanHillicon Valley: Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract | FTC weighs updating kids' internet privacy rules | Schumer calls for FaceApp probe | Report says states need more money to secure elections Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Maxine Waters says her committee will call in Zuckerberg to testify about Libra MORE (D-Calif.) arguing that Trump obstructed justice by firing James ComeyJames Brien Comey3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 Barr predicts progressive prosecutors will lead to 'more crime, more victims' James Comey shows our criminal justice system works as intended MORE as FBI director as well as a resolution from Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibWorld Jewish Congress condemns Tlaib for suggesting boycott of Bill Maher's show F-bombs away: Why lawmakers are cursing now more than ever A lesson of the Trump, Tlaib, Omar, Netanyahu affair 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.