House shoots down attempt to immediately impeach Trump

The House voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to sideline an effort to immediately impeach Donald Trump, the first test of efforts in the Democratic-led House to seek the president’s removal from office.

Ninety-five Democrats voted against blocking articles of impeachment filed this week by Rep. Al Green (D-Texas), who used a procedural maneuver to force action on his proposal.

But 137 Democrats and 194 Republicans voted to delay consideration of the measure indefinitely, effectively killing it. The result was cheered by Republicans who were quick to emphasize the overwhelming bipartisan vote to block Trump’s impeachment — as well as the fact that more Democrats than ever voted to immediately consider articles of impeachment.

Trump also took a quick victory lap, declaring efforts to impeach him “OVER.”

“The United States House of Representatives has just overwhelmingly voted to kill the Resolution on Impeachment, 332-95-1,” he said, noting the House’s full tally, which included one abstention. “This is perhaps the most ridiculous and time consuming project I have ever had to work on. Impeachment of your President … is now OVER.”

Though he failed to garner enough support to advance impeachment proceedings, Green reached a high water mark in his long-running effort to oust Trump. He previously forced votes on advancing articles of impeachment against Trump in 2017 and 2018, when Republicans controlled the House, drawing 66 and 58 votes in favor of consideration, respectively.

Since former special counsel Robert Mueller issued his findings in April, the number of Democrats seeking an impeachment inquiry against Trump has climbed above 80, though many have said they’re not prepared to seek Trump’s immediate impeachment.

Green shrugged off concerns that Republicans and Trump might take a victory lap.

“Whether we get 95 or 5, the point is we have to make a statement to the American people that there are some among us who believe that this president is unfit and should be impeached,” Green said after the vote. “I don’t see 95 as a failure. Just as I didn’t see 66 as a failure and I didn’t see 58 as a failure. I’m in this for the duration; this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”

The vote laid bare some divisions among some House Democrats, including among Pelosi’s leadership team — many of her senior members voted to block the articles of impeachment but more junior members, including Reps. David Cicilline, Jamie Raskin, Katherine Clark, Ted Lieu, Debbie Dingell and Joe Neguse voted against blocking Green’s proposal.

At least a handful of lawmakers who support launching an impeachment inquiry against Trump voted against immediate consideration of Green’s articles, including Reps. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Justin Amash (I-Mich.).

The two top Democrats on the Judiciary Committee — Reps. Jerry Nadler and Zoe Lofgren — also voted against sidelining Green’s measure. Nadler, whose committee oversees the impeachment process, had publicly said he preferred to have the measure referred to his panel, rather than blocked altogether.

“We will hear directly from special counsel Mueller one week from today,” Nadler said. “I very much doubt that today will be the last action we must consider to hold President Trump accountable.”

Several senior Democratic lawmakers also backed consideration of Green’s proposal, including House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone.

Aware of the explosiveness of the vote, lawmakers were closely studying the tally as it slowly climbed. Reps. Adam Schiff and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell stood together watching their colleagues decide — and Reps. John Garamendi and Tom Malinowski huddled together.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has long opposed efforts to immediately begin impeachment proceedings against Trump and confirmed she would not support Green’s resolution.

“No I don’t,” Pelosi told reporters Wednesday when asked whether she supported Green’s effort. “Does that come as a surprise?”

She said later at a news conference that there are “six committees that are working on following the facts. … That is the serious path that we are on.”

Green, cited Trump’s recent racist tweets against four Democratic congresswomen as the impetus for his effort to force the issue.

“It is time for us to send the president a clear message that he is not above the law,” Green said from the House floor Wednesday morning.

Pelosi also hosted a meeting with Democrats on Wednesday morning so they could hear an update on the ongoing litigation involving Trump from the House counsel.

Lawmakers who lead the caucus’ messaging arm gave a presentation on what Democrats should talk about back in their districts during the six-week August recess. On the topic of impeachment, members were told to answer the question and then quickly pivot to touting their legislative achievements, according to lawmakers in the room.

Meanwhile, Green’s comments are stoking concern among some of his Democratic colleagues about its effect on next week’s scheduled hearing with Mueller, a high-profile event that some backers of Trump’s impeachment hope will energize their efforts before the House departs for the recess.

Green emphasized during his floor remarks that he views his effort as unrelated to the ongoing effort to probe Mueller’s evidence that Trump sought to obstruct the investigation of his 2016 campaign’s contacts with Russians.

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