A group of Democrats on Wednesday announced that they would be filing multiple articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, marking the most significant push to remove the president from office.
The move was led by Representative Steve Cohen of Tennessee, who first declared his intention to initiate the impeachment process following Trump’s controversial “both sides” remarks in response to deadly violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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Cohen is joined in his efforts by five colleagues, including fellow Judiciary Committee Democrat Luis Gutiérrez of Illinois, who announced his decision to join the push two weeks ago. Also at the press conference were Representatives Adriano Espaillat of New York and Al Green of Texas.
The latter is one of the president’s loudest critics, and he has previously filed his own articles of impeachment.
The others who have signed on to the effort are Representatives Marcia Fudge of Ohio and John Yarmuth of Kentucky, and Cohen said there were more in the House who had indicated that they would be willing to join the effort soon.
“We have taken this action because of great concern for our country and our Constitution, our national security and our democracy,” Cohen said. “We believe President Trump has violated the Constitution.”
Five articles of impeachment will be introduced, alleging obstruction of justice, violations of both the foreign and domestic emoluments clause, undermining the federal judiciary and undermining the freedom of the press.
Cohen called upon the Judiciary Committee to begin hearings, but accepts that is unlikely to happen in a Republican-controlled House. The Judiciary Committee, Cohen claimed, is operating like a “branch of the administration.”
Still, the move is significant because it is the House Judiciary Committee that typically conducts impeachment investigations. That was the case with President Richard Nixon before he resigned prior to the resolutions being considered. While the committee did not conduct its own investigation in the case of President Bill Clinton, who became just the second president to be impeached after Andrew Johnson, it drafted the four impeachment articles and voted to send them to the House.
Cohen is the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution and civil justice, which has jurisdiction over impeachment.
For now, the move is unlikely to pick up much steam, as Republicans control both the House, where a majority would need to vote in favor of impeachment, and the Senate, where a two-thirds majority would be needed to convict. While a few Republicans, such as Senators Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, have begun openly criticizing the president, there is little sign of widespread dissension, particularly with the crucial goal of tax reform still yet to be achieved.
This is evidence, though, of an escalation of efforts on the Democratic side. To date, two Democrats have filed articles of impeachment, but they have done so without widespread support.
In July, California Congressman Brad Sherman filed articles accusing Trump of obstruction of justice over his firing of former FBI Director James Comey. Green was the only Democrat to back that push, and last month filed multiple impeachment articles in which he declared Trump “unfit” for the office of president and stressed that a president needn’t be convicted of a crime in order to be impeached.
Last week, Green insisted that he would call for a vote on impeaching the “Chief Inciter of racism, bigotry, hatred, xenophobia, sexism, ethnocentrism.”
Democratic Party leaders, though, have thus far been unwilling to back that assessment. Earlier this week, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said during an interview on ABC: “I am not talking about impeachment.” The remark came in response to a question about a multimillion-dollar ad campaign launched by Democratic donor Tom Steyer calling on Americans to demand that Congress impeach Trump.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, said last week that impeachment “is not someplace I think we should go.”