WASHINGTON — In May of 2017, Texas Rep. Al Green became the first Democrat in Congress to support impeaching President Donald Trump. Trump had, at the time, been in office for just four months.
Since then, he’s forced a House vote on impeachment three times, each one garnering more support than the last.
And on Tuesday, more than two and a half years after his first push, House Democrats unveiled articles of impeachment: One charging the president with abuse of power, and another charging him with obstruction of Congress.
The articles will be marked up in the Judiciary Committee later this week and then head to the House floor for a full vote, where they’re expected to pass, making Trump just the third president in this country’s history to be impeached. Then, it will be up to the Senate to try the president.
Barring some unforeseen, earth-shattering revelation, it seems very unlikely the Republican-controlled Senate will vote to remove Trump from office, and when that time comes, Democrats seem poised to simply move on and focus their energy on the 2020 election.
But not Green.
“My prayer is that the Senate will take the articles seriously, that the President will be found guilty, and he'll be removed from office, but if he isn’t, the constitution allows for additional articles of impeachment to be filed,” Green told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday. “If the president commits impeachable offenses, the president can be impeached more than once … so if the Senate doesn't do its job and the President commits impeachable acts, he can still be impeached, and he can be impeached for impeachable acts that he's already perpetrated that were not a part of this impeachment.”
The narrow construction of the House’s current articles of impeachment — they address only abuse of power related to Ukraine and Trump’s refusal to comply with the inquiry — gives Green a lot of wiggle room.
For example, he said, if the president is not removed from office and goes on to actually shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, as Trump famously remarked he could, “if he did that with malice aforethought,” he could be impeached again.
Green said he will let the Senate “work its will, with the understanding that if the Senate does not convict and remove,” Trump can once again be impeached.
Since coming out in favor of impeachment, Green told BuzzFeed News that he has faced threats and has had to hire armed security. “For some of us this is about more than votes and Congress,” he said over the phone Tuesday. “For some of us, this is about physical harm that may befall us. You can’t go into my district office unless you see a person with a gun,” he added (referring to security guards).
“For some of us, it’s about more than a vote. It’s about physical harm that may occur and it’s also about physical harm that may occur to people who are subject to some of the behavior that inciting comments can produce.”
Green has repeatedly pushed for the inclusion of an impeachment article that addresses Trump’s history of racism, telling BuzzFeed News in September, that he hoped there would be “be at least one article of impeachment concerning the president's bigotry infused into policy that is harming our society.”
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a progressive first-year member, has pushed for the same.
“The words ‘racist abuse of power’ should be part of the articles of impeachment. Not including this type of abuse based on racism will be unjust to the children caged at the border & all the communities who have faced violence b/c of his actions,” Tlaib tweeted last month, responding to a story about Trump’s decision to proclaim November “National American History and Founders Month” instead of Native American Heritage Month.
“I think for many of my residents, it is some of the most un-American, racist policies that he’s also [enacted] that we think is an impeachable offense,” Tlaib told reporters Tuesday, though she added that impeaching Trump on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges is also important.
While the House has already passed a resolution condemning racist comments Trump made about Tlaib and other women of color in the House, Green said it wasn’t enough.
“There is a body of evidence indicating that the President is a recidivist, and his recidivism is something that should not go unnoticed because of the harm it is causing to American people,” he said.
And despite his yearslong conviction that Trump should be impeached and removed from office, Green said Tuesday that he won’t hold it against any of his colleagues who may choose to vote against articles or — as Politico reported — potentially push for a censure resolution, which would merely reprimand the president, instead.
“I think this is a question of conscience, and if we all do [what our] conscience dictates [we should do], we will be able to live with ourselves,” he said. But, he added, “My personal opinion is that my conscience would not allow me to conclude that that is sufficient given the President's behavior.”
“You don’t hear a lot of talk about the country being torn apart for the questions related to Ukraine. [But] the people who suffer every day are being torn apart in their daily lives,” Green said in a separate interview. “And I don’t know how I could, as a member of Congress, decide that because I might not get reelected that I would not do what I know to be the right thing. And to be very honest with you, if this would cause me to lose a seat in Congress, I just say send me home.”