If you’ve been waiting for a congressional vote on the impeachment of Donald Trump, I have some good news and some bad news. The Washington Post reported on this afternoon’s developments on the House floor:
Republicans and most Democrats in the House banded together Friday to stop an attempt to impeach President Trump.
Rep. Al Green (D-Tex.) came to the House floor at 12:13 p.m. Wednesday to offer articles of impeachment under special House rules requiring a floor vote; he returned to the floor at 1:34 to force that vote.
Not surprisingly, it didn’t go well. A total of 238 House Republicans voted to table the privileged resolution – in effect, killing the measure – and they were joined by 126 House Democrats, who also opposed it.
That said, 58 House Dems voted to advance the impeachment measure – that’s nearly a third of the entire conference – while four Democrats voted “present.” (Six members, five Dems and one Republicans, did not vote.) Both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) opposed it.
And at this point, some of Donald Trump’s detractors are probably wondering why it didn’t fare better. After all, there’s a fair amount of public support for the president’s impeachment and Trump is facing credible allegations of serious misdeeds, including obstruction of justice.
The trouble, however, is that while this was a Trump impeachment measure, its author had a different kind of impeachment push in mind.
Rep. Al Green (D-Tex.) wrote a relatively detailed letter to his colleagues yesterday, making his case against Trump in writing. It did not mention Russia or Vladimir Putin. It made no reference to obstruction of justice. There wasn’t a word about Trump’s political operation possibly having coordinated with a foreign adversary during its attack on U.S. elections.
Instead, Article I of Green’s impeachment effort accused Trump of associating the presidency “with white nationalism, neo-Nazism, and hate.” It condemned Trump’s response to, among other things, the violence in Charlottesville over the summer and his criticism of football players protesting racism.
Article II accused Trump of “inciting hatred and hostility,” condemning the president’s handling of transgender troops, his criticism of Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria, and his description of Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) as “wacky.”
There was no third article. This was Green’s case for impeachment in a nutshell. There’s ample debate among experts as to what should and shouldn’t constitute an impeachable offense, but it’s not too big a surprise that today’s measure pursued a definition that struggled to gain broad acceptance.
That said, while I’m not going to pretend to know what will happen with the Trump-Russia scandal, I think it’s safe to say that members who opposed today’s impeachment resolution may have a different perspective if, say, the Office of Special Counsel accuses the president in writing of obstruction of justice.