Houston Rep. Al Green Calls for Trump's Impeachment as Other Democrats Hold Off

WASHINGTON -- After weeks of warning that President Donald Trump’s actions were veering towards illegality, Rep. Al Green on Monday called for the president to be impeached.The Houston Democrat claimed that Trump may have committed illegal obstruction of justice by firing FBI director James Comey during the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and then seeking to intimidate him in a tweet warning that there may be “tapes” of their conversation.“President Trump is not above the law,” Green said in a written statement. “He has committed an impeachable act and must be charged. To do otherwise would cause some Americans to lose respect for, and obedience to, our societal norms.”Only one other member of Congress, Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California, has explicitly called for Trump’s impeachment. But several others have discussed the possibility.Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, became one of the first members of Congress to even raise the possibility of impeachment just weeks into Trump’s tenure, warning that if the president sought to defy court orders halting his immigration executive order, that would be an impeachable offense.Those claims eventually died down. But Castro said on CNN last week that, if it can be determined that Trump fired Comey to intentionally impede the Russia investigation, that could be an “impeachable” offense, too. For now, Castro added, more information is needed to make that determination.A member of the House intelligence committee, Castro has also previously said that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if some Trump associates eventually end up in jail.Green emphasized that impeachment proceedings in the House would only be to charge the president, not necessarily to remove him from office.“Whether he is guilty is a separate action for the U.S. Senate to decide,” Green said.The constitution requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate to convict the president and remove him from office.Skeptics posit that individual calls for impeachment without serious momentum behind them are often an attention-seeking move. An aide for Green did not respond to questions about whether he would file an impeachment resolution and whether he has reached out to other Democrats to garner support.“Impeachment is a really serious charge,” said Sean Theriault, a political science professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “Unfortunately, since the Clinton era, the word gets thrown around quite a bit.”But Green does have some prominent legal backers on his side. Laurence Tribe, a famed constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School, argued in a Washington Post op-ed this weekend that “the time has come” for Congress to launch an impeachment investigation against the president for obstruction of justice.Sanford Levinson, a constitutional law scholar at the University of Texas, has argued that a more appropriate constitutional mechanism for removing the president would be a straight up-and-down vote of confidence in Congress. That way Congress could avoid the “lawyerly mumbo jumbo” that impeachment debates often devolve towards.“A topic like impeachment always, without exception, is going to be a blend of law and politics,” Levinson said.The House has successfully impeached just two of the 45 presidents: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Both were acquitted by the Senate and remained in office.Theriault suspects that most other Democrats are holding their fire on calls for impeachment to avoid limiting their credibility if they ultimately do decide to more seriously pursue the option.“If Trump does cross the line and they’ve already screamed for his impeachment, screaming it even louder isn’t going to yield any different outcome,” Theriault said. “But I don’t think it’s necessarily bad for Maxine Waters and Green to till the soil or lay the groundwork so if future allegations are made, they’ve already broached the topic.”In order to generate more congressional support for his cause, Green urged the public to weigh in and pressure their representatives to take action.“Our mantra should be ‘I. T. N.,’ Green said. “‘Impeach Trump Now.’”The White House did not respond to a request for comment.  Continue reading...

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