As controversy continues to swirl around the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials ahead of the 2016 election, we speak to Democratic Congressmember Al Green of Texas. Last week he became the first congressmember to call for President Trump’s impeachment from the floor of the House of Representatives.
AMY GOODMAN: On Capitol Hill, former CIA Director John Brennan testified to the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday, describing how he’d grown concerned last year about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials ahead of the 2016 presidential campaign.
JOHN BRENNAN: I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign, that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals, and it raised questions in my mind, again, whether or not the Russians were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals. I don’t know whether or not such collusion—and that’s your term—such collusion existed. I don’t know. But I know that there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation by the bureau to determine whether or not U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding, with Russian officials.
AMY GOODMAN: Former CIA Director John Brennan went on to say he was worried the Russians would lure Trump campaign officials onto a, quote, “treasonous path.” Brennan’s testimony Tuesday came as the Senate Intelligence Committee issued subpoenas for documents from two of former National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn’s businesses. Flynn himself has pleaded the Fifth and refused to comply with a Senate Intelligence Committee subpoena demanding he turn over documents related to his meetings with Russian officials.
Meanwhile, Democratic Congressman Al Green of Texas has announced he’s drafting articles of impeachment against Trump. Green first raised the issue of impeachment on the floor of the House last week.
REP. AL GREEN: I rise today, Mr. Speaker, to call for the impeachment of the president of the United States of America for obstruction of justice. I do not do this for political purposes, Mr. Speaker. I do this because I believe in the great ideals that this country stands for: liberty and justice for all, the notion that we should have government of the people, by the people, for the people. I do it because, Mr. Speaker, there is a belief in this country that no one is above the law, and that includes the president of the United States of America.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Texas Democratic Congressman Al Green on the floor of the House last week. Well, Congressman Green joins us from Washington, along with John Bonifaz, co-founder and president of Free Speech for People, one of the organizations that launched the “Impeach Donald Trump Now” campaign just moments after Trump’s inauguration.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Congressman Al Green, let’s begin with you. Why have you stepped out as the first person calling for Donald Trump’s impeachment?
REP. AL GREEN: Thank you for having me on, Amy. This is something that I take very seriously. It’s not something that I did on a whim. It was after much thought that I concluded that when the president fired the head of the FBI, who was investigating him, the president, and the president went on to say on national TV that he did it because of the investigation—thereafter, of course, there was some tweeting done that might amount to intimidation—all of these things combined are enough to conclude that the president has committed an impeachable act.
It’s important to note that impeachment does not mean that the president will be removed from office. The House impeaches. The Senate would have a trial. And then, after the trial in the Senate, the president can be deposed and removed from office.
I would also add this, if I may. There is a difference between the collusion that is being alleged and the obstruction of justice. The obstruction of justice is clear, perspicuously so. It took place. The president confessed to Mr. Holt that he did it because of the investigation, that the Russian thing was a made-up story. This is enough to impeach the president. I believe all of these other things are important. And when you’re assessing your evidence as a trial lawyer, you—in terms of the hierarchy of evidence, you can have something that you consider primary. This is something that the case is really going to hinge on. And then there are things that you might want to deal with that are secondary, other things that can be tertiary and quaternary. But you don’t have to have all of those things. You do have to have the fact that the president, in his own words, said that he was firing a person because he was being investigated.
AMY GOODMAN: So you have CNN reporting President Trump asked the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers to publicly state that President Trump’s campaign did not collude with Russia to allegedly influence the 2016 election. According to CNN, the request came after former FBI Director James Comey publicly confirmed in March the FBI was investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Both Coats and Rogers refused to comply with Trump’s demand, which they reportedly found inappropriate. Coats also testified yesterday. The significance of all of this, Congressman Green?
REP. AL GREEN: Well, this is additional evidence that will support the primary evidence, that I’ve called to your attention. All of this evidence is important. It, in fact, indicates that the president had a great deal of concern. That concern could emanate from the fact that there are things that could be harmful to him. But whether it’s ever proven that he colluded or not, whether he is convicted of that, is not important when it comes to the obstruction of justice. Important in the sense that it shows additional things, but when it comes to the obstruction of justice, that act was done. And what happens with the collusion is a totally separate occurrence.
And I assure you, the president is going to have to come before the bar of justice at some point, which will be the House of Representatives. Now, I don’t say that in the sense that he will appear before the House. But there will be an impeachment resolution before the House, because any of the 435 members of Congress can file an impeachment resolution with articles of impeachment. I have not relinquished my right to do so. I reserve the right. And at some point, if no one else does it, I will file articles of impeachment against the president.
AMY GOODMAN: Some people say, why not just let the special counsel, Robert Mueller, the former FBI director, do his job, let him do his investigation?
REP. AL GREEN: Well, I want to see him do his investigation. That investigation seems to be directed more toward collusion than obstruction of justice. I think both are equally as important. And I think that he should do his job. I do not have an acid test for when the resolution will be filed. I’m just giving an assurance that there will be one filed, because the president has obstructed justice. And I assure people also that when it is filed, it will be something that is thoughtful, that has been clearly vetted. I have persons who will be assisting me who are constitutional scholars. So it’s not something that’s done haphazardly, capriciously and arbitrarily. It’s something done with a great deal of intentionality.