Some Dem chairmen have changed tune on Trump impeachment

House Democratic chairmen who cast votes in favor of impeaching President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senator introduces bill to hold online platforms liable for political bias Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally 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. GreenJulián Castro pledges 0B green infrastructure fund in housing proposal Julián Castro pledges 0B green infrastructure fund in housing proposal We can do right by the planet and the economy 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 EngelEngel draws primary challenger in NY Engel draws primary challenger in NY Overnight Defense: Latest on House defense bill markup | Air Force One, low-yield nukes spark debate | House Dems introduce resolutions blocking Saudi arms sales | Trump to send 1,000 troops to Poland MORE (N.Y.), Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonHillicon Valley: Facebook unveils new cryptocurrency | Waters wants company to halt plans | Democrats look to force votes on election security | Advertisers partner with tech giants on 'digital safety' | House GOP unveils cyber agenda Top Dems question legal basis for appointing Cuccinelli as temporary immigration chief Top Dems question legal basis for appointing Cuccinelli as temporary immigration chief MORE (Miss.), Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (Mass.), Science Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice JohnsonEddie Bernice JohnsonReturning to the moon to gain soft political power Some Dem chairmen have changed tune on Trump impeachment Hillicon Valley — Presented by CTIA and America's wireless industry — Prosecutors used FISA warrant to get info on Huawei | Study finds discrimination in Facebook ads | Bezos retains voting control over ex-wife's Amazon stocks MORE (Texas), Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneTop Trump health official warned against controversial ObamaCare changes in private memo Top Trump health official warned against controversial ObamaCare changes in private memo First major 'Medicare for All' hearing sharpens attacks on both sides 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 WatersHillicon Valley: Facebook unveils new cryptocurrency | Waters wants company to halt plans | Democrats look to force votes on election security | Advertisers partner with tech giants on 'digital safety' | House GOP unveils cyber agenda On The Money: Trade chief defends Trump tariffs before skeptical Congress | Kudlow denies plan to demote Fed chief | Waters asks Facebook to halt cryptocurrency project On The Money: Trade chief defends Trump tariffs before skeptical Congress | Kudlow denies plan to demote Fed chief | Waters asks Facebook to halt cryptocurrency project 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 MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE’s report.

Engel, who backed impeachment in separate votes in 2017 and 2018, echoed Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi slated to deliver remarks during panel hearing on poverty The DNC's climate problems run deep Cracks form in Democratic dam against impeachment 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 SteyerDemocratic super PACS set to target Trump amid 2020 primary race: report Democratic super PACS set to target Trump amid 2020 primary race: report Steyer group targeting 12 congressional Democrats over impeachment 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 JeffriesDems eye repeal of Justice rule barring presidential indictments Dems eye repeal of Justice rule barring presidential indictments Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump 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 NadlerWant the truth? Put your money on Bill Barr, not Jerry Nadler From abortion to obstruction, politicians' hypocrisy is showing Watergate figure John Dean earns laughter for responses to GOP lawmakers 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 CummingsCummings requests interview with Census official over new allegations on citizenship question Cummings requests interview with Census official over new allegations on citizenship question Top Dems question legal basis for appointing Cuccinelli as temporary immigration chief MORE (D-Md.) and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHouse votes against curtailing warrantless collection of Americans' data Overnight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Cracks form in Democratic dam against impeachment 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 BarrTrump blasts Mueller, decries 'witch hunt' at 2020 launch Trump blasts Mueller, decries 'witch hunt' at 2020 launch Cummings requests interview with Census official over new allegations on citizenship question 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 ShermanWho are the House Democrats backing Trump impeachment? Who are the House Democrats backing Trump impeachment? Lawmakers reintroduce bipartisan IRS bill with 'Free File' provision removed MORE (D-Calif.) arguing that Trump obstructed justice by firing James ComeyJames Brien ComeyWant the truth? Put your money on Bill Barr, not Jerry Nadler Want the truth? Put your money on Bill Barr, not Jerry Nadler Trump: Reported security incidents related to Clinton emails 'really big' MORE as FBI director as well as a resolution from Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOcasio-Cortez under fire for concentration camp remarks Ocasio-Cortez under fire for concentration camp remarks Hillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data 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.