A slow-burning Democratic argument about whether to pursue the impeachment of President Trump continued to smolder on Monday, as Rep. Al Green (D-Tex.) criticized House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi for “trivializing” the issue.
“President Donald Trump can be impeached, and should be impeached, for his hateful, hurtful and bigoted policies,” said Green at a news conference in his district. “Trivializing his bigotry also allows Trump supporters to hypothesize that while Trump may be an objectionable jerk, he is not an impeachable bigot, which is not true.”
Green, a seven-term congressman from Houston, is one of several Democrats in safe seats who have introduced impeachment resolutions. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), who represents some of the Los Angeles suburbs, has argued that Trump could be impeached for firing James B. Comey as FBI director. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), who represents the city of Memphis, has urged that Trump be impeached for financially benefiting from his presidency, a hypothetical violation of the emoluments clause.
Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have suggested that Green, Sherman and Cohen — as well as the more than 50 Democrats who have backed some of the impeachment measures — are wasting their time.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who would lead the House Judiciary Committee if Democrats retook the House majority in the midterm elections, has repeatedly said that impeachment should be pursued only if Republicans agreed that the president should be removed from office, a process that would require 67 Senate votes. Last week, at an editorial board interview with the Dallas Morning News, Pelosi said that Democrats who discussed impeachment were handing a “gift” to Republicans.
“We have elections,” Pelosi said. “Go vote if it’s a policy thing and a behavior thing. I don’t know if you can get impeached for being a jerk, but if we did, this guy would be long gone.”
Republicans fully intend to use the impeachment issue against Democrats. In swing races, the party’s nominees so far have suggested that they would wait for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to wrap up his investigation before they say what might or might not be an impeachable offense. But Republicans have been informing conservative voters that impeachment will be a sure thing if Democrats take the House, seeing it as an issue that could drive up turnout.
“I think there’s no doubt they will,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said last week on Hugh Hewitt’s syndicated radio show. “They’ve telegraphed a lot of that. Their base is so far radical to the left.”
Privately, Democrats see plenty of possible targets for investigation if they control the House — from the president’s tax returns to meetings between White House officials and lobbyists — but they say there’s nothing they can do to stop Green or other members from talking up impeachment. The congressman, who hosts an “impeachment” information page on his official website, frequently uses House floor time to repeat his pitch. On Monday, when he opened up his news conference for questions, Green stood for a few seconds in silence.
“Apparently I have done such a good job that there are no questions at this time,” said Green.