The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

House votes to kill Texas lawmaker’s Trump impeachment effort

Rep. Al Green (D-Tex.) introduced articles of impeachment against President Trump on Dec. 6, but the House voted against the effort. (Video: U.S. House of Representatives)

Republicans and most Democrats in the House banded together Friday to stop an attempt to impeach President Trump.

Rep. Al Green (D-Tex.) came to the House floor at 12:13 p.m. Wednesday to offer articles of impeachment under special House rules requiring a floor vote; he returned to the floor at 1:34 to force that vote. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) offered a motion to table the resolution, which was adopted on a 364 to 58 vote. Every lawmaker who opposed the motion was a Democrat, as were four others who voted present.

The top two House Democrats both voted to table the resolution after coming out against Green’s effort shortly before the House voted.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) issued a joint statement opposed Green’s push, though they stopped short of calling on Democrats to vote to kill it.

“Democrats are firmly focused on taking real, effective steps to improve the lives of hard-working Americans and defeating Republicans’ cruel barrage of attacks on the middle class,” they wrote, pointing to their opposition to the pending Republican tax bill while acknowledging that Trump has “made statements and taken actions that are beyond the pale for most Americans.”

“Legitimate questions have been raised about his fitness to lead this nation,” Pelosi and Hoyer continued. “Right now, Congressional committees continue to be deeply engaged in investigations into the President’s actions both before and after his inauguration. The special counsel’s investigation is moving forward as well, and those inquiries should be allowed to continue. Now is not the time to consider articles of impeachment.”

Green has discussed impeaching Trump since spring and previously filed impeachment articles in October, nearly forcing a vote at that time before House Democratic leaders persuaded him to temporarily abandon the effort.

The Democratic leaders have long believed that any effort to take up Trump’s impeachment is premature as long as investigations by multiple congressional committees, as well as by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, are underway. Politically, the vote puts rank-and-file Democrats in a tough position — between a desire to allow the investigations to run their course, the possible discomfort of moderate voters, and the demands of the anti-Trump left wing.

Fewer than a third of House Democrats ultimately voted against tabling Green’s resolution. One member of the House Democratic leadership supported Green, Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), as did most members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

In his memo sent to colleagues Tuesday, Green argued that the time for impeachment has come: “As I have said before, this is not about Democrats, it is about democracy. It is not about Republicans, it is about the fate of our Republic. May everyone vote their conscience knowing that history will judge us all.”

Rep. Al Green (D-Tex.) read articles of impeachment against President Trump during a speech on the House floor on Dec. 6. (Video: U.S. House of Representatives)

The impeachment resolution Green circulated Tuesday does not include any allegations of obstruction of justice or other alleged crimes connected to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign or the pending investigations into connections to Russia. It does detail Trump’s dalliances with the far right — including his failure to quickly denounce the white nationalist marchers in Charlottesville — and his recent tweeting of anti-Muslim videos circulated by a British extremist group, as well as public acts and statements denigrating various groups and individuals.

“For too long, we have allowed our civility to prevent us from confronting the invidious incivility of President Donald J. Trump,” Green wrote. “In doing this, hatred disguised as acceptable political correctness has festered in our body politic and polluted our discourse to our detriment. It divides and damages the social fabric of our country in ways that obstruction of justice cannot. It causes unparalleled destruction to our society in the long- and short-term that will not easily heal.”

After the vote, Green said he would press on with his campaign to remove Trump and he was already working on a new impeachment resolution.

“It’s a process, and this is another step in the process,” he said. “Just stay tuned. I assure you, that’s not the last vote to impeach.”