WASHINGTON — Is racism an impeachable offense? A record number of Democrats seem to think so.
Ninety-five House Democrats, including several junior members of leadership and a few committee chairmen, signaled Wednesday they want to impeach President Donald Trump. They voted to allow the House to take up articles of impeachment over his bigoted attacks on four freshman Democrats and immigrants generally.
It was the first time House Democrats have taken up the issue since taking control of the chamber in January, although Rep. Al Green of Texas, the author of the measure, has brought it up twice before. The last time he forced a vote, only 66 Democrats voted to proceed with impeachment.
And like the previous times, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and her top lieutenants refused to allow the measure to move forward. A majority of the House voted with all Republicans to squash the resolution, after GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy of California moved to set aside the legislation.
Green had said he would introduce it sometime this month, but moved up his timeline following outrage over Trump’s racist tweets and statements that four women of color who serve in Congress should “go back” to their countries, even as three of them were born in the United States.
He said the record vote tally is proof that there is growing demand in Congress to impeach Trump.
“It says to me that people appreciate the fact that the President is unfit and should be removed from office. And I think that there'll be more. My hope is that we don't have to do this again,” he told reporters after the vote. “I believe that his comments coupled with his behavior, at some point will lead to his impeachment.”
The resolution sticks strictly to bigotry: It states that Trump brought “contempt, ridicule, disgrace and disrepute, has sown discord among the people of the United States, has demonstrated that he is unfit to be President.” It references his recent comments about Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, but also goes further, stating his behavior has struck fear into immigrants and new Americans.
Pelosi has said she doesn’t want to bring up impeachment unless she has at least some bipartisan support. But Ocasio-Cortez, who supported moving forward with Green’s resolution, is among a contingent in the caucus have said that is a pipe dream.
“The speaker has her line and her litmus test,” she told VICE News. “I do not think that in this political environment, that bipartisanship is the number one priority when it comes to impeachment. I think the fact that there is significant evidence that he broke the law is our what our litmus test needs to be.”
Pelosi told reporters earlier in the day that she wants to continue investigating Trump though the committee process.
”We have six committees that are working on following the facts in terms of any abuse of power, obstruction of justice and the rest that the president may have engaged in and that is the serious path,” she said.
Green, who met with Pelosi earlier in the day but declined to talk about the meeting, has said the impeachment resolution would have no bearing on other ongoing investigations into whether Trump obstructed justice or engaged in financial misdeeds.
“I do not think that in this political environment, that bipartisanship is the number one priority when it comes to impeachment.“
Two chairmen with a direct role in those investigations, Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, both from New York, voted with Green to keep the motion alive. So did Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and other more junior members of leadership.
Nadler and members of his committee have said they wanted the resolution referred to his panel so they could vote on it.
The vote signals a larger frustration among House Democrats that their leaders are not moving fast enough to hold Trump accountable. Although they voted this week to informally condemn the president's remarks and voted on Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress, many members believe more must be done.
Cover: President Donald Trump points to the coming storm as he speaks with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before departing, Wednesday, July 17, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)