On Wednesday morning, four House Democrats solemnly faced a half-full room of reporters and announced that they would try to impeach the president.
The campaign to remove Donald Trump from the White House, elevated by liberal donor Tom Steyer’s $20 million “Vote to Impeach” ad buys, remains an off-on distraction in Congress. Supporters of impeachment point out that there were similar long-shot efforts to impeach Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. They argue that all of it helped drive the conversation in a city that preferred not to have one at all.
“I said three months ago that I would be introducing articles of impeachment,” said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), the sponsor of the newest impeachment articles. “I don’t expect the House Judiciary Committee, which is operated like a branch of the administration, to have hearings.”
Previous impeachment efforts, despite some initial fanfare, have mostly faded.
At a roundtable meeting with reporters last week, Steyer said that the Vote to Impeach campaign did not back any particular effort going through — or, more accurately, going nowhere in — the House.
“We are obviously supportive of all those people, and as far as I can tell, they don’t have a majority right now,” said Steyer. “We think this has to be a much broader thing.”
Of the three impeachment efforts underway this year, just one has been given a legislative number. They are listed below:
Main sponsor: Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.)
Introduced: July 12
The gist: Sherman’s brief, single article of impeachment argues that the firing of former FBI director James B. Comey violated Trump’s oath of office, especially after the president blurted out in an NBC News interview “that the main reason for the termination was that the Director would not close or alter the investigation of matters related to the involvement of Russia in the 2016 campaign for President of the United States,” according to the resolution.
Al Green’s Articles of Impeachment
Main sponsor: Rep. Al Green (D-Tex.)
Introduced: Oct. 17
The gist: Green produced four charges against the president, not related to the Russia investigation but to his conduct in office — especially his handling of race relations.
One: That he “produced a demonstrable record of inciting white supremacy, sexism, bigotry, hatred, xenophobia, race-baiting, and racism by demeaning, defaming, disrespecting, and disparaging women and certain minorities.”
Two: That by refusing to clearly condemn white supremacists, he’s been “associating the majesty and dignity of the presidency with causes rooted in white supremacy, bigotry, racism, anti-semitism, white nationalism, and neo-nazism.”
Three: That Trump “engag[ed] in perfidy by making the widely reported claim that three to five million people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election.”
Four: That Trump’s July speech to police officers amounted to “encouraging law enforcement officials to violate the constitutional rights of suspects in their care, custody, and control.”
Steve Cohen’s Articles of Impeachment
Main sponsor: Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.)
Introduced: Nov. 15
The gist: Cohen opens the floodgates, with five articles arguing for the president to be removed from office over everything from the handling of 2016 campaign questions to his tweets about the media.
One: Trump has “obstructed the administration of justice” with coverups on the Russia probe.
Two: Trump’s opaque handling of his finances and real estate holdings “left himself open to foreign influence and deprived the American people of the assurance that their highest elected official was working on their behalf with undivided loyalty, and violated Article I, Section 25 of the U.S. Constitution.”
Three: Trump “violated Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution,” the emoluments clause, by continuing to benefit from business at his properties while president.
Four: Trump has “sought to undermine the independence of the Federal judiciary and the rule of law” by criticizing judges who rule against him and by pardoning infamous Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Five: Trump has “sought to undermine the freedom of the press guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution.”