Congressman Al Green said Trump’s ‘association’ with white nationalism’ and incitement of hatred makes him unfit to lead, but his resolution will not advance
The House on Wednesday voted to stop an effort by some Democrats to impeach Donald Trump.
A total of 58 Democrats voted to move forward on articles of impeachment brought by congressman Al Green, a Democrat of Texas. Another four voted “present”, a vote indicating neither for nor against.
In his resolution, Green said Trump’s “association” with white nationalism, neo-Nazism and his incitement of hatred and hostility was evidence that he was not fit to occupy the Oval Office. The resolution did not make reference to the Russia inquiry.
“I have a low tolerance for bigotry,” Green said in an interview after the vote. “I don’t think that obstruction of justice is more important to this country than racism, xenophobia, the hatred and the ugly behavior that’s coming from the White House. I think that we have for too long put hatred on the back burner.”
In the resolution, the congressman specifically referenced: Trump’s comments after the deadly violence in Charlottesville, when the president drew an equivalence between neo-Nazi demonstrators and liberal protesters; his decision last week to share three anti-Muslim videos posted by the deputy leader of a British far-right group; and a list of statements he has made denigrating groups and individuals, including NFL players and congresswoman Frederica Wilson.
Wilson, who voted for the resolution, said “it felt sort of surreal” to be mentioned by name and that she was surprised to be included.
Green took the setback in stride, calling it a “step” in a long, protracted process. He said he was already drafting additional articles of impeachment but had not made a decision on when he will bring those forward.
The Texas Democrat said that he is grateful to his colleagues who voted against the motion and in favor of moving the resolution forward.
Asked if he knew in advance that so many Democrats would support the resolution, Green said he was equally surprised by the number of Democrats who did not.
“I didn’t have an indication that so many Democrats were going to vote for it,” Greens said.
Democratic leaders have for months sought to temper calls for Trump’s impeachment, arguing that the move would be premature given the continuing investigations into his campaign and administration led by congressional committees and the special counsel Robert Mueller.
In a statement before the vote, the House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, and House Democratic whip, Steny Hoyer, made that case.
“This president has made statements and taken actions that are beyond the pale for most Americans, embracing those who espouse hatred and division while promoting policies that would harm our economy and undermine our national security,” the Democrats said.
“Legitimate questions have been raised about his fitness to lead this nation. 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.”
However, the No 3 Democrat in the House, Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, voted to advance the impeachment process, as did a number of other prominent figures including Keith Ellison, the vice-chair of the DNC.
Wilson told the Guardian that a different impeachment resolution that mentioned Russia and Trump’s other legal issues would likely garner more support in the future.
The constitution of the United States provides that “the president, vice-president and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Impeachment requires a simple majority vote of the House and then the Senate serves as a jury to hear the case with a two-thirds vote required for removal from office.
Only two presidents have ever been impeached: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. However, neither were convicted by the Senate. Richard Nixon resigned before the House of Representatives could vote on impeachment resolutions. Nineteen elected officials in total have been impeached in American history and only eight have been convicted.