Regardless of how much evidence ultimately turns up of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, Rep. Al Green (D-TX) believes Trump has already done enough to warrant impeachment.
In an interview with ThinkProgress, Green said that the combination of Trump firing FBI Director Jim Comey while his campaign is under FBI investigation for possible collusion with Russia, the president subsequently admitting that he did so in part because of his frustrations over the Russia investigation, and Trump later issuing a thinly veiled threat to Comey is more than sufficient to begin impeachment proceedings.
“The president is not only intimidating the former FBI director, but any other person that might become FBI director and persons who are working on this case,” Green said. “He is demonstrating that he has the power to dismiss people summarily, with impunity, unless he’s impeached.”
Green said he thinks impeachment is necessary in order to demonstrate that “nobody is above the law in this country.” He argues Trump’s effort to obstruct the Russia investigation is an impeachable offense regardless of what evidence the probe ultimately does or does not uncover.
“The obstruction will exist no matter what the president calls ‘the Russia thing’ — separate and apart from ‘the Russia thing,’” he said.
Asked whether he has confidence the FBI will still be able to conduct a thorough investigation into Trump’s Russia ties without Comey at the helm, Green said that’s beside the point.
“The president committed an impeachable act when he fired Comey and indicated he considered the Russia thing when he did it,” he said. “This will follow the president for as long as he’s in office — the impeachable offense will still be there.”
In addition to doing interviews, Green’s office distributed a press release that says failing to impeach Trump “would cause some Americans to lose respect for, and obedience to, our societal norms.”
“President Trump has committed an act for which he should be charged by the U.S. House of Representatives,” the release continues. “The act is the obstruction of a lawful investigation of the President’s campaign ties to Russia influence in his 2016 Presidential election.”
Green said that while his “hope is other members will join in” and support his call, his decision to go public with it at this time is about the law, not what’s politically feasible.
“This is not personal, this is constitutional,” he said, adding that while back in his Houston-area district in recent days, he’s heard from many constituents who are on the same page.
“They don’t necessarily have the constitutional arguments to make, but people understand that it doesn’t look right, doesn’t smell right,” Green said.
Indeed, new polling released Tuesday by Public Policy Polling (PPP) found that a plurality of Americans want Trump impeached.
“Only 40 percent of voters approve of the job Trump is doing to 54 percent who disapprove,” PPP writes. “For the first time we find more voters (48 percent) in support of impeaching Trump than there are (41 percent) opposed to the idea. Only 43 percent think Trump is actually going to end up serving his full term as President, while 45 percent think he won’t, and 12 percent aren’t sure one way or the other.”
Notably, PPP’s survey was conducted before news broke about Trump’s unusual decision to share highly classified and sensitive counterterrorism intelligence with Russian officials amid the active investigation of his campaign’s ties with Russia.
Green joins Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) as the two members of Congress who publicly support impeaching Trump. Waters was calling for Trump’s impeachment before Comey’s firing.
The President is a liar, his actions are contemptible, & I'm going to fight everyday until he's impeached.
— Maxine Waters (@MaxineWaters) April 18, 2017
In his statement, Green says “our mantra should be ‘I.T.N. — Impeach Trump Now.’” But he notes that impeachment isn’t sufficient to remove Trump from office.
“Whether he is guilty is a separate action for the U.S. Senate to decide,” the statement adds. “I also say this can happen with a Republican-controlled House and Senate if the public weighs in by demanding that the Republican President be charged by way of impeachment.”
No Republican has yet publicly supported Trump’s impeachment, but on Tuesday, Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA) became the first House Republican to call for a special prosecutor to lead the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.