House Democrat pushes for censuring Trump in closed-door meeting

Rep. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump eyes narrowly focused response to Iran attacks Lewandowski, Democrats tangle at testy hearing Trump probes threaten to overshadow Democrats' agenda MORE (D-Tenn.) during a closed-door caucus meeting on Tuesday pushed to censure President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? 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) MalinowskiPelosi: No House vote on impeachment inquiry Democrats gauge support for vote on impeachment inquiry In testimony, Dems see an ambassador scorned, while GOP defends 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 PelosiTrump-GOP tensions over Syria show signs of easing Democratic debate starts with immediate question on Trump impeachment White House, Pentagon, Giuliani reject House subpoenas 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 JeffriesHouse chairman: Pompeo not complying with impeachment inquiry Sunday shows - Second whistleblower grabs spotlight Top House Democrat: 'We have Trump appointees who are clearly unnerved by the lawlessness of this president' 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-CortezFive takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? Ocasio-Cortez to endorse Sanders for president MORE (N.Y.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyOcasio-Cortez to endorse Sanders for president Pennsylvania candidate would be first autistic woman elected to a state legislature Pressley joins hundreds of activists calling for Kavanaugh impeachment: 'I believe in the power of us' MORE (Mass.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarFive takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? Ocasio-Cortez to endorse Sanders for president MORE (Minn.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibFive takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? Ocasio-Cortez to endorse Sanders for president 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 claim new momentum from intelligence watchdog testimony Romney: Trump requesting Biden investigation from China, Ukraine 'wrong and appalling' GOP lawmaker: 'It is terrible' for Trump to call on China to probe Biden MORE (Texas) and Mike TurnerMichael Ray TurnerHouse questions Volker as impeachment probe ramps up Republicans show signs of discomfort in defense of Trump   GOP battens down the hatches after release of Trump whistleblower complaint 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 McCarthy10 top Republicans who continue to deny the undeniable Furious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria Five ways Trump's Syria decision spells trouble 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.