House set to block maverick Dem’s Trump impeachment effort – By Alan Fram and Mary Clare Jalonick (Associated Press) / July 17 2019
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House prepared Wednesday to easily derail a maverick Democrat’s drive to impeach President Donald Trump for his recent racial insults against lawmakers of color , an effort that party leaders consider a premature exercise that needlessly forces vulnerable swing-district lawmakers to cast a perilous and divisive vote.
© Provided by The Associated Press House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., walks to the House Chamber, Tuesday, July 16, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Even facing certain defeat, the resolution by Texas Rep. Al Green risked deepening Democrats’ already raw rift over how aggressively to pursue impeaching Trump in the shadow of the 2020 elections. Liberal Democrats itching to oust Trump have been pitted against Speaker Nancy Pelosi, other leaders and party moderates, who prefer waiting to see if a stronger case for removal can be developed.
“I think we’ll get rid of all this right now,” Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters of Green’s proposal. A vote was expected as early as Wednesday.
Recent polling has shown solid majorities oppose impeachment. Even if the Democratic-run House voted to impeach Trump, the equivalent of filing formal charges, a trial by the Republican-led Senate would all but certainly acquit him, keeping him in office.
Pelosi noted that six House committees are investigating Trump and said, “That is the serious path we’re on.” Democrats are also eagerly awaiting next week’s scheduled public testimony to two House committees by special counsel Robert Mueller.
With Democrats preparing to defend their House majority in next year’s elections, Green’s measure puts incumbents in closely divided districts in a difficult spot. Democrats owe their House majority to 39 challengers who won in 2018 in what had been GOP-held districts, places where moderate voters largely predominate.
“It’s not ideal for a lot of people to have to take that vote right now,” one of them, Rep. Katie Hill, D-Calif., said Wednesday of impeachment. She said “if and when” the House votes on impeaching Trump, it should happen when “we can make sure our constituents understand and can get behind” the move.
© Associated Press Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, walks during a break from testimony from David Marcus, CEO of Facebook’s Calibra digital wallet service, before a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 17, 2019. Green has introduced a resolution in the House to impeach President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democrats are also concerned that Republicans could use a failed impeachment vote to try taking the steam out of the continuing probes into Trump’s performance in office by arguing that the House had demonstrated it had no appetite for removing him from office.
“This is all they’ve ever wanted to do from the day of the election” in 2016, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in a brief interview.
Green said in an interview that unless the House impeaches Trump, the president will argue, “‘I’ve done nothing wrong. If I’d done something wrong, they would have impeached me.'”
Green’s measure cites Trump’s recent “racist” comments imploring Democratic congresswomen of color to go back to their native countries. The House voted Tuesday largely along party lines to condemn those statements . His targets were Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
All are American and all but Omar were born in the U.S. They’ve also been among the party’s most outspoken advocates of impeachment.
Trump is “unfit to be President, unfit to represent the American values of decency and morality, respectability and civility, honesty and propriety, reputability and integrity, is unfit to defend the ideals that have made America great, unfit to defend liberty and justice for all,” Green’s resolution said.
Green’s resolution does not mention Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump’s 2016 campaign conspired with Russia to influence that year’s congressional election or whether the president obstructed Mueller’s probe.
Those threads have been why some Democrats have backed impeachment. More than 80 of the 235 House Democrats have said an impeachment inquiry is merited.
Mueller’s 448-page report detailed several episodes in which Trump tried to influence his investigation. Mueller said he could not exonerate Trump on obstruction and indicated in a May news conference that it was up to Congress to decide what to do.
Those who support an impeachment inquiry have argued that it would accelerate the process and bolster their arguments in court. Some Democrats are frustrated with the slow pace of their party’s investigations of the president. Democrats have had little success so far in their attempts to investigate beyond what Mueller detailed, as the White House has blocked several witnesses from answering questions.
Green’s measure was the third resolution to impeach Trump he has brought to the House floor since 2017. The eight-term veteran has spurned leadership entreaties to hold off in the past.
But while his first two efforts were symbolic because they came with Republicans controlling the House, this time Democrats run the chamber.