Texas Democrat aims to force a House vote on impeaching Trump

Democratic Representative Al Green, of Texas
European Pressphoto Agency
Democratic Representative Al Green, of Texas

WASHINGTON — Representative Al Green, a longtime proponent of impeaching President Trump, said Tuesday that he plans to force a vote, though he offered no timetable.

The Texas Democrat, who has been pushing the effort for more than a year, stood on the House floor and held up a copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to argue that ‘‘this Congress has a date with destiny’’ and must impeach Trump for obstructing justice.

‘‘The bells of history are reminding us that we have a responsibility to our country that we must take up,’’ Green said, saying did not want to force a vote but that he has a duty to do so. ‘‘I will not put party above people. I will not put politics above principle. And I will not put this president above the law.’’


He added: ‘‘I will not allow history to show that this Congress did not take a vote on the impeachment of a reckless, ruthless, lawless president. I absolutely believe that we must honor our date with history.’’

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The development, while perhaps not surprising, comes amid a renewed drive for impeachment in the House as divided Democrats simmer over Trump’s refusal to cooperate with their investigations. Trump last week declared that he would block all subpoenas while instructing administration officials to ignore requests for testimony and documents.

Further escalating the clash with Congress, Trump and his family, as well as the Trump Organization, filed suit Monday against one of their lenders and one of their banks, seeking to stop them from complying with congressional subpoenas.

The lawsuit against Deutsche Bank, which has loaned Trump more than $360 million in recent years, and Capital One are designed to prevent them from providing records to the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees. The panels are led by Representatives Adam Schiff and Maxine Waters, D-Calif., respectively.

‘‘The Trump lawsuits are baseless and they are likely to be dismissed in court,’’ said the House Democratic Caucus chairman, Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York. ‘‘[W]e are not going to run away from our constitutional responsibility to serve as a check and balance on an out-of-control executive branch. That’s not the Democratic Caucus playbook. That’s not the Nancy Pelosi playbook.’’


Speaker Nancy Pelosi, also a California Democrat, remains opposed to initiating impeachment proceedings, telling her fellow leaders Monday night that they must stay focused on the legislative agenda ahead of the 2020 election. She has said impeachment is ‘‘divisive’’ and that Trump is ‘‘not worth it.’’

But the pressure on Pelosi is growing, inside and outside the halls of Congress. More and more Democrats are fed up with Trump’s flagrant move to block their investigations. And on Tuesday, former vice president Joe Biden said the House may have ‘‘no alternative’’ but to impeach Trump if his administration keeps blocking investigations.

‘‘What the Congress should do and they are doing is investigate that,’’ the 2020 presidential candidate said on ABC’s ‘‘Good Morning America.’’ ‘‘And if in fact they block the investigation, they have no alternative to go to the only other constitutional resort they have: impeachment.’’

A new group of Democrats is starting to say the same. Freshman Representative Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania said Tuesday that ‘‘if that road takes us to impeachment, so be it.’’

‘‘We’re going to do our job. We’re going to walk right down this road step by step by step,’’ she said. ‘‘If they put up roadblocks, we have constitutional muscle, we have the rule of law that will allow us to get the information . . . and if that road takes us to impeachment, so be it.’’


The divide in the caucus is likely to worsen over time. And Green’s move to win a vote in the House may exacerbate that split, forcing Democrats to cast a tough vote: with the base, which supports impeachment, or with the nation, which overall does not, according to recent polling.

When Green files articles of impeachment, leadership would have two legislative days to respond by scheduling a vote to table them, refer them to the Judiciary Committee, or postpone consideration.

Green said he is not lobbying lawmakers to join his cause but merely asks that they vote their conscience. Waters and Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, two other vocal impeachment backers, similarly said Tuesday that they were not organizing at the moment to push leadership on the matter.

‘‘I think the speaker has an awesome responsibility to act in the best interest of the entire caucus, and she’s doing that — I get that,’’ Waters said. ‘‘And I think those of us who chair committees have a responsibility to do the work that the Constitution mandates that we do, and that’s what I’m doing.’’

Democrats opposed to starting impeachment now say there is no chance the Republican-led Senate would convict Trump and force him out.

‘‘We know it’s not going to be easy, and we recognize that all the effort he’s putting into denying us access for information is just an affirmation that he’s done something wrong,’’ said Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey. ‘‘He’s hiding from the American people, and that is a communication that we’re going to have to share with the American people: Talk to this president, tell the president you need to share the information that everyone is entitled to know.’’

She said the decision rests with the leadership of the committees ‘‘when they feel they cannot go any further and the leadership of our caucus when they’ve tried everything they can to get answers to their questions. But I live in the real world. And the real world is that there is a Senate that has no desire to do the right thing so long as Republicans are in charge. So we need to figure out: How do we keep the fire on the president?’’

Trump’s no-cooperation strategy comes in the aftermath of Mueller’s report, which found 10 potential areas of obstruction by the president. While Mueller did not charge Trump with conspiring with Russia or obstructing justice, he appeared to defer to Congress on the latter, noting that Justice Department rules bar prosecuting a sitting president.