WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump was acquitted of two impeachment charges Wednesday, but the first Democrat to call for impeachment said the House did its job and will be there watching like the “Sword of Damocles.”
“I think that we can be proud of the fact that the House is Representatives did its job,” Democratic Rep. Al Green told BuzzFeed News in a telephone interview Wednesday. “The House had the courage to take on the president and to fashion articles of impeachment — they were voted and the president has been impeached. That is something that will last forever.”
The House charged Trump with two articles of impeachment in December: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The former charge was for withholding military aid to Ukraine until the president announced an investigation into a political rival, Joe Biden. The latter charge was for stonewalling the House’s investigation by not allowing White House staff to testify. He is the third president in US history to be impeached by the House.
Green told BuzzFeed News in December the House was open to bringing additional articles of impeachment against Trump if the Senate acquitted him. Moments after the Senate voted, Green told BuzzFeed News he hasn’t wavered and that the House stands “ready to bring charges” if the president commits additional impeachable acts, or, potentially, for acts he has “already committed.”
During the Senate trial, the New York Times reported that former national security adviser John Bolton had heard from Trump directly that he was withholding the Ukrainian aid in exchange for an investigation into the Bidens and that he possessed notes on the president’s request. But Senate Republicans voted against hearing from additional witnesses in the trial, including Bolton.
Despite the acquittal, Green said, he thinks the president understands the House is committed to holding him responsible for any future impeachable offenses.
“My belief is that the House of Representatives is on watch,” he told BuzzFeed News. “He could have received a signal that there are no guardrails — that he can obstruct and he can do it with immunity and impunity. I do believe it would be a mistake for him to think that he can now simply disregard all the laws we have in this country.”
In May 2017, Green was the first Democrat in Congress to call for the president’s impeachment. At the time, the Texas lawmaker was pointing to the president’s obstruction during the House’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Congress later impeached the president on a similar charge, obstruction of Congress, over the Ukraine incident.
After a trial that lasted a little over two weeks, the Republican-led Senate voted to acquit the president.
“The Senate, in my opinion, failed to do its job,” said Green, warning that the acquittal “should not be perceived by the president as a license to do that which the Constitution forbids and the laws would find reason to punish him.”
Rep. Maxine Waters, another Democrat who made early calls for impeachment, applauded the senators who voted to remove Trump from office, acknowledging Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine, and Republican Sen. Mitt Romney from Utah, who voted to convict the president. Waters accused the other senators, all Republicans, of being “enem[ies] of the rule of law and the Constitution.”
“The jurors abandoned impartiality and openly colluded with the guilty defendant,” Waters said in a statement.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, another staunch critic of the president who came out in favor of impeachment earlier than many of her House colleagues, also condemned the Senate’s decision.
“I just know that doing nothing wasn’t an option of us in the House, and it’s unfortunate that the Senate is going to create a dictatorship by acquitting him,” Tlaib told reporters Tuesday night after the State of the Union address.