×
To impeach or not to impeach
July 17, 2019

After the House of Representatives passed a resolution Tuesday condemning President Trump's "racist comments" against four Democratic congresswomen, Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) filed articles of impeachment against the president.

Trump tweeted at the lawmakers — all women of color — to "go back" to their home countries. In his resolution, Green wrote that "Trump has, by his statements, brought the high office of the president of the United States in contempt, ridicule, disgrace, and disrepute, has sown discord among the people of the United States, has demonstrated that he is unfit to be president, and has betrayed his trust as president of the United States to the manifest injury of the people of the United States, and has committed a high misdemeanor in office."

Green told Democratic leaders earlier in the day what he planned on doing, The Washington Post reports, and they now have three choices: let the vote proceed, attempt to table the impeachment articles, or refer them to the House Judiciary Committee. Under House rules, Green can force a vote in two legislative days. More than 80 members of the House of Representatives have said they want to launch an impeachment inquiry.

Democrats are divided on what to do about impeachment, with some all for it and others — especially those who represent districts won by Trump in 2016 — wary. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said she would rather the American people vote Trump out next year, and while Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) supports impeachment, he told the Post, "We're trying to keep the caucus together as we respond to the most lawless administration of our lifetimes. I'm enough of a political pragmatist to believe that you call votes when you think you can win them, not when you think you can lose them." Catherine Garcia

June 7, 2019

The short version of Chris Cuomo's argument for the House to start impeachment proceedings against President Trump, which he laid out on CNN Thursday night, is that Democrats are shirking their constitutional duty to check-and-balance the president because they are scared of the future. He started with a literary reference.

Right now, Democrats "are collectively Hamlet, pondering to be the party of impeachment or not to be," Cuomo said. "And just like Hamlet, they're torn on their existence because they're not sure what comes next." Forget that, he said. The first step is to get Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify on camera, laying out for the public "what the president said and did and asked of others, what it means legally and ethically," because nobody's read Mueller's report and people trust him more than they do lawmakers.

Cuomo suggested starting with "an impeachment inquiry — not official proceedings," for "maximal effective force of Congress in the courts. Consolidate all the efforts into one committee and then get it done quickly, and don't you showboat! Let the other committees work on the myriad matters of importance to the American people. Where it leads, how it ends, you can't know, and that should not be your guide. Do your duty."

"This won't be an easy call," but "it is instructive that almost every one of the people running to be nominee in the next election for president are in favor of taking this step — remember, they're going to pay the biggest price if this is judged to be a bad or just political move," Cuomo said. "People will punish you doing nothing or going in different directions at once, and rightly so." Peter Weber

May 29, 2019

2020 Democrats are ready to follow Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-Mass.) lead — or perhaps Special Counsel Robert Mueller's.

Warren became the first presidential candidate to call for President Trump's impeachment about a month ago, with more contenders jumping on the train in the weeks since. But now, with Mueller's Wednesday reminder that indicting Trump was "not an option" under Department of Justice guidelines, it seems they're all inching toward the resistance's side.

After Mueller made his first public comments about his Russia investigation, Warren quickly tweeted to characterize it as "an impeachment referral." Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg used that same term in their own Wednesday statements.

Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) all renewed their pleas for impeachment on Wednesday as well, while Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) made his for the first time. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), though, only called for impeaching Attorney General William Barr — perhaps a sign of his allegiance to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has only gone so far as to say it "may be time" for the House to start an impeachment inquiry into Trump. Former Vice President Joe Biden has said that if Trump blocked further Congressional probes into his behavior, then Congress would have "no alternative" but to impeach him. Both frontrunners remained silent on Wednesday. Kathryn Krawczyk

May 29, 2019

Special Counsel Robert Mueller didn't say much during his brief statement on Wednesday, so Congress is reading between the lines.

Mueller gave his first in-person statement about his probe into Russian election interference and the Trump campaign's conduct surrounding it on Wednesday, notably saying that indicting President Trump was "not an option" under Department of Justice guidelines. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), who was the first and so far only Republican in Congress to call for Trump's impeachment, decided that meant it was time for Congress to pick up where Mueller left off.

Amash was far from the only lawmaker to renew an impeachment call following Mueller's comments, with 2020 candidate Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) tweeting that "Congress has a legal and moral obligation to begin impeachment proceedings immediately." House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) didn't explicitly mention impeachment, but he did say Congress will "respond to" Trump's "crimes, lies and other wrongdoing" in a statement. Kathryn Krawczyk

May 23, 2019

President Trump is apparently begging to be tried for high crimes and misdemeanors.

As more and more Democrats keep joining the call for Trump's impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has ignored prodding from other House leaders and her own staff to remain a holdout on the process. Pelosi reiterated her stance in a Thursday press conference, saying "the House Democratic Caucus is not on a path to impeachment — and that's where [Trump] wants us to be."

Pelosi, along with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), held an infrastructure meeting with Trump on Wednesday that lasted all of three minutes. That's because Trump walked out of the meeting, chalking his exit up to Pelosi's allegation that Trump "engaged in a cover up" involving his finances. But Pelosi suggested Thursday that Trump's real problem was with how ongoing court cases are putting Democrats closer to his finances, as well as Democrats' will-they, won't-they attitude on impeachment.

Also on Thursday, Pelosi said she was holding out on backing impeachment because it's "a very divisive place to go in our country," but conceded yet again that Trump may have committed "impeachable offenses." Kathryn Krawczyk

May 21, 2019

On Monday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) fended off several calls to start impeachment inquiries against President Trump, The Washington Post and Politico report. At a closed-door leadership meeting, at least five members of Pelosi's leadership team pressed her to authorize impeachment hearings, arguing that starting the impeachment process would strengthen their hand in the heated legal fight with Trump's White House over documents and witness testimony. Later, Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) reportedly made his case to Pelosi to start impeachment proceedings.

Pelosi was not persuaded. Her main arguments, according to people in or familiar with the meetings, were that the majority of House Democrats aren't in favor of impeachment yet, that it would further distract from the economic and social case Democrats are trying to make, that impeachment is divisive, that the courts are siding with Democrats against Trump, and that impeachment hearings would undercut the five other House committees investigating Trump, leaving everything in the Judiciary Committee. "You want to tell Elijah Cummings to go home?" Pelosi asked, referring to the House Oversight Committee chairman.

The pro-impeachment Democrats, including former law professor Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), argued that starting an impeachment inquiry would streamline the many Trump investigations and give Democrats more robust subpoena powers, and it wouldn't necessarily lead to an impeachment vote or trial. Nadler said "the president's continuing lawless conduct is making it harder and harder to rule out impeachment or any other enforcement mechanism." Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) confirmed to Politico that he pointed out that House Republicans launched immediate impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton "over sex," while Trump is "raping the country."

Nadler later appeared to side with Pelosi, saying it would be best to give the courts a chance first. "There's no divide," Pelosi told Politico on Monday night. "We're fine." Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads