WASHINGTON — The first member of Congress who called for President Trump to be impeached sent a memo Wednesday to House members urging them to incorporate concerns about Trump’s “racism” into the ongoing impeachment inquiry. In the memo, Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, noted that, in July, the House passed a resolution condemning Trump for making “racist comments” about four Democratic congresswomen of color.
“How will history judge this Congress that passed a resolution indicating President Trump made harmful, racist comments if it does not impeach him for his impeachable racist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, transphobic, xenophobic language instigating enmity and inciting violence within our society?” Green asked in his memo, which was obtained by Yahoo News.
The House resolution, which was backed by four Republican lawmakers, came in response to Trump’s July Tweets saying the congresswomen should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
All four lawmakers are American citizens and three were born in the United States.
In May 2017, less than four months after Trump took office, Green became the first Democrat to call for impeachment on the House floor after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Since then, Green, a lawyer and former president of the NAACP’s Houston branch, has formally introduced articles of impeachment against Trump three different times, including once immediately following the resolution condemning the president for “racist comments.”
Green’s articles of impeachment have focused on what he has described as Trump’s “infusion of bigotry into policy” including the president’s alleged comments about migrants coming from “s***hole countries,” Trump’s efforts to curb immigration from Muslim and Latin nations, and his claim that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the 2017 white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Va.
Green has argued impeachment, as defined by the founders, does not require a statutory crime. As evidence of this, he points to various documents including the 10th article of impeachment against President Andrew Johnson in 1868 that focused on comments he made that were described as “peculiarly indecent and unbecoming.”
Those articles of impeachment said Johnson’s remarks brought the presidency “into contempt, ridicule and disgrace, to the great scandal of all good citizens.” The comments that were cited in Johnson’s impeachment included statements he made that blamed Congress for racial violence that took place in New Orleans in 1866 and left nearly 50 people dead.
In his memo, Green argued Johnson’s comments provoked further violence. Green also suggested Trump’s rhetoric fueled a mass shooting that took place in El Paso, Texas, in August 2019 that is being investigated as an anti-immigrant hate crime.
“President Trump’s incitive climate of hate motivated the white supremacist who committed the El Paso massacre, where he killed some 22 persons and injured some 24 others,” Green wrote. “If the congressional Republicans of 1868 impeached President Johnson for his abusive, incitive, racist comments causing harm, why can’t the Congress of 2019 impeach President Trump for his abusive, incitive, racist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, transphobic comments causing harm to society?”
Trump has previously attacked Green for his impeachment efforts in a series of tweets that suggested the congressman was engaged in a partisan effort to thwart the president’s reelection. In one of Trump’s posts, the president inaccurately quoted the congressman, and the other took Green’s words out of context.
When asked for comment on the congressman’s memo, White House deputy press secretary Steven Groves, also accused Green of a purely partisan attack.
“This is an unsurprising sentiment coming from the congressman who wants to impeach President Trump so that he doesn’t get reelected,” Groves said of the memo.
The Democrats’ current impeachment inquiry is focused on concerns Trump pressured the government of Ukraine to launch an investigation into his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. Green has said he believes Trump’s actions with respect to Ukraine were “corruption,” however he has been adamant that concerns about the president’s racial rhetoric and policies towards communities of color should also be addressed.
“To those who say that the House resolution condemning the President is enough, I say if impeachment is the remedy for invidious abuse of power related to Ukraine, it should be the remedy for invidious abuse of power related to racism in the United States,” Green wrote in his memo.
Green also addressed those who are reluctant to impeach Trump because of the likelihood the Republican Senate majority will not vote to remove Trump from office, urging his colleagues not to have a “double standard” and to “perform our constitutional duty regardless of the outcome in the Senate.
“To those who say we shouldn’t impeach the President for abuse of power related to his impeachable, incitive, racist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic language causing harm to our society because the Senate won’t convict, I say where is the empirical evidence, the proof that the Senate will convict for any reason?” Green asked.
Green’s memo raised the possibility that he might introduce his own articles of impeachment a fourth time. He has had support from a growing number of Democrats in each of his prior efforts though they have fallen well short of a House majority.
His effort comes as Democrats are engaged in a behind-the-scenes debate over how to proceed with the impeachment inquiry. The House Judiciary Committee held hearings on Wednesday with constitutional scholars discussing whether they felt the Intelligence Committee’s hearings on Trump’s handling of Ukraine revealed any impeachable offenses. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said no decisions have been made about whether to draft articles of impeachment against Trump or what the potential articles might include.
Another Democrat has also called for impeachment to be broadened beyond the Ukraine scandal. On Tuesday evening, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., the third-ranking Democrat, gave an interview to McClatchy’s Emma Dumain in which he said he wants articles of impeachment to include instances of obstruction of justice that were detailed in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Dumain described these comments as an indication that private discussions about how the impeachment process should move forward “are now beginning to spill out into the open.”
Green also criticized the impeachment inquiry in a speech on the House floor on Wednesday morning where he noted none of the constitutional scholars called to testify before the Judiciary Committee were people of color. He suggested this omitted an important voice from the proceedings and urged his colleagues to have “balance as it relates to all aspects of society” in the selection of expert witnesses.
“People of color for too long have been ignored by one party and taken for granted by the other,” Green said. “I refuse to be ignored and taken for granted. I came here to represent the people who are ignored and taken for granted.”
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