The Democratic effort to impeach President Trump is set to expand – but not everyone in the party is cheering.
A group of Democrats will file new articles of impeachment against the president this month, according to Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), who’s supporting the push. But the campaign is sure to prove a headache for Democratic leaders, who have ventured all year to tamp down rank-and-file attempts to oust the president amid concerns that they’ll undermine efforts to win back the House.
The Democrats had hinged their 2016 elections strategy on attacking Trump, which proved unsuccessful, and leaders are hoping to focus their 2018 message on the economy rather than the turmoil surrounding the White House.
But not all Democrats are on board. And Gutierrez said the latest set of impeachment articles will arrive before Thanksgiving.
Itis clear to us that he is unfit to be president of the United States of America,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez, one of Trump’s sharpest critics, declined to specify what grounds the articles will cite, saying only that the Democrats are working with constitutional scholars to solidify their case.
“I assure you we will not leave you lacking for reason,” he said.
It’s also unclear which Democrats will join Gutierrez in the effort, though Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) has been named as one possibility.
Cohen in August announced his intent to introduce impeachment articles, citing Trump’s defense of the white supremacists who participated in a deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va., that month.
Cohen’s office declined to comment Wednesday.
Democratic leaders have sought throughout the year to discourage impeachment efforts against Trump, fearing it could politicize the investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, including possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign. Behind House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), top Democrats are awaiting the outcome of those probes, particularly the one being conducted by Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor appointed by the Justice Department in May.
“It is not, obviously, off the table at some time in the future, but is premature at this point in time,” Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the House minority whip, told reporters last month, echoing Pelosi.
Complicating their strategy, Tom Steyer, the billionaire environmentalist, launched a $10 million campaign last month urging Democrats to back the impeachment effort – a campaign that’s running on cable shows nationwide.
Gutierrez said the time for waiting is over. And the indictments against several former Trump campaign figures, announced by Mueller’s team on Monday, have only fueled the effort, he said.
“There is increased interest,” Guti rrez said.
Two other Democrats – Reps. Brad Sherman (Calif.) and Al Green (Texas) – have already introduced articles of impeachment targeting Trump. Last month, Green stopped just short of forcing a vote on the issue, but he suggested this week that a future vote is inevitable. Congress’s impeachment powers were “drawn for a time such as this and a president such as Mr. Trump,” Green said Tuesday during an interview in his Capitol Hill office.
“I’m in no rush to be first, but I will say this: We have to – we have to bring it to the floor,” Green said. He emphasized that there’s no need to wait for Mueller to conclude his investigation because the Constitution empowers Congress to impeach a president for any reason at all.
“That investigation is a criminal investigation,” he said of Mueller’s probe, “and impeachment is political.”
“I’ve never been of the opinion that we had to prove a crime to impeach this president.”
Green acknowledged that some Democrats might be agitated by the aggressive impeachment push while the Mueller investigation continues. But he’s growing impatient, warning that “history won’t be kind” to those lawmakers who sit idle amid the swirl of controversies surrounding Trump.
“I can’t let my record show this,” Green said. “The people who will probably judge us probably haven’t been born.”
Gutierrez seems to agree, and he’s glad to have a growing coalition to help him make the case.
“I appreciate what single members have done,” Gutierrez said. “I think it’s time to do a group.”