House Democrat pushes for censuring Trump in closed-door meeting

Rep. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenHouse Democrats inch toward majority support for impeachment The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony This week: Mueller dominates chaotic week on Capitol Hill MORE (D-Tenn.) during a closed-door caucus meeting on Tuesday pushed to censure 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 for his tweets telling four progressive congresswomen to "go back" to their countries, going a step further than the resolution condemning the president that is up for a vote later in the day.

Cohen introduced a resolution late Monday night to censure Trump, arguing the formal rebuke should be stronger than the resolution from Rep. Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiRepublicans plot comeback in New Jersey Democrats call for Pelosi to cut recess short to address white nationalism House votes to kill impeachment effort against Trump MORE (D-N.J.), who was born in Poland, that "strongly condemns President Donald Trump’s racist comments."

During the Democratic caucus meeting, 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.) spoke in defense of the four progressive freshmen. She also argued that the Malinowski resolution had a chance of drawing GOP support.

"These are our sisters. The fact is, as offended as we are, and we are offended by what he said about our sisters. He says that about people every day and they feel as hurt as we do about somebody in our family having this offense against them," Pelosi said, according to an aide in the room.

"This is, I hope, one where we will get Republican support," Pelosi said of Malinowski's resolution. "If they can't support condemning the words of the president, well, that's a message in and of itself."

But Cohen dismissed that argument.

"The truth is I'm not worried about getting Republicans. I think we ought to do what's right, and what is moral and ethically right. What he has done is reprehensible," Cohen said after the House Democratic Caucus meeting.

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.) also said that condemning, rather than censuring, Trump had the most support.

"The decision has been made by leadership with the full support of the overwhelming majority of the House Democratic Caucus, that this is the right approach to take at this moment. There will be accountability measures that we'll have to consider as we move forward. But at the moment that we're in right now, we want the strongest vote possible, and we're hopeful that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle would put country ahead of party, would put decency ahead of Donald Trump. Let's see what happens on the floor later on this evening," Jeffries said.

Cohen's resolution had nine co-sponsors upon its introduction on Monday, but he said that several more lawmakers had approached him about co-sponsoring it on Tuesday morning. The co-sponsors include the four freshman progressive lawmakers targeted by Trump: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOmar says US should reconsider aid to Israel Pro-Trump Republican immigrant to challenge Dem lawmaker who flipped Michigan seat 3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 MORE (N.Y.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyJoseph Kennedy mulling primary challenge to Markey in Massachusetts Ocasio-Cortez brushes off Trump tweet claiming she is 'fuming' over Tlaib, Omar attention Trump finds consistent foil in 'Squad' MORE (Mass.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarWorld Jewish Congress condemns Tlaib for suggesting boycott of Bill Maher's show A lesson of the Trump, Tlaib, Omar, Netanyahu affair Tlaib suggests boycotting Maher show after he calls anti-Israel boycott movement 'bulls--- purity test' MORE (Minn.) and 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 (Mich.). Omar, who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia, is the only one of the four who was born in another country.

Malinowski on Tuesday defended his resolution, telling reporters that it is "the way to go."

"Let's focus on these comments that the vast majority of Americans recognize to be divisive and racist," Malinowski said. "Right now what we can unite around is that what the president said is wrong, un-American and dangerous."

While some Democrats, like Cohen, are pushing for censure, Malinowski's resolution is still expected to get unanimous support from Democrats on the floor later Tuesday.

Some rank-and-file GOP lawmakers have pushed back against Trump's tweets, but only two House Republicans — Reps. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdDemocrats keen to take on Cornyn despite formidable challenges Republicans offer support for Steve King challenger House Democrats target 2020 GOP incumbents in new ad MORE (Texas) and Mike TurnerMichael Ray TurnerDayton Democrat launches challenge to longtime GOP rep Assault weapons ban picks up steam in Congress Ohio GOP rep announces support of military-style weapon ban MORE (Ohio) — explicitly called them racist. Most Republicans haven't gone as far, making it less likely that they'd be willing to vote for Malinowski's resolution, which labels Trump's comments racist.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyI'm not a Nazi, I'm just a dude: What it's like to be the other Steve King Trump finds consistent foil in 'Squad' Tlaib says she won't visit Israel after being treated like 'a criminal' MORE (R-Calif.) said at a Tuesday press conference that he will be urging Republicans to vote against the resolution of condemnation. When asked if Trump's comments were racist, McCarthy replied, "No."

"It's all politics," McCarthy said.

House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) also spoke up during the closed-door Democratic caucus meeting to caution lawmakers to be careful with their words during floor debate because Republicans will likely try to have them taken down from the record because of a rule stating that members shouldn't engage in personal attacks on the president. McGovern suggested that lawmakers check with the House parliamentarian about what language is acceptable during floor debate.

"I'm not," Pelosi said, drawing laughter.

Updated at 11:26 a.m.