- Al GreenDemocratic member of Congress from Texas. In 2017, he became the first congressmember to call for President Trump’s impeachment from the floor of the House of Representatives.
President Donald Trump is on the cusp of being impeached by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, with a historic vote set today on whether to formally accuse him of abusing his power in dealing with Ukraine to help himself politically, and then obstructing Congress by blocking their investigation. Trump lashed out directly at the vote on Tuesday, calling the proceedings to remove him from office an “attempted coup.” Should the House approve either of the articles of impeachment, the Republican-controlled Senate will hold a trial with all 100 senators acting as jurors, with a two-thirds supermajority — 67 votes — required to convict. Meanwhile, thousands of protesters in favor of impeaching Trump took to the streets Tuesday in cities across the country. On what many are calling “Impeachment Day,” we go to Capitol Hill to speak with Rep. Al Green of Texas, who was the first congressmember to call for President Trump’s impeachment from the floor of the House of Representatives in 2017.
AMY GOODMAN: The House of Representatives is set to hold a historic vote today on two articles of impeachment against President Trump. The articles accuse President Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. They center on how President Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden, and how Trump then tried to cover up his actions to thwart a congressional inquiry. After a six-hour debate on the House floor, the Democratic-controlled House is expected to vote for impeachment by the end of the day, which would mark only the third time in U.S. history that a president has been impeached. Today’s vote comes after the House Rules Committee approved the terms of today’s debate, which will allow no amendments on the floor. Trump lashed out directly at the vote Tuesday, calling the attempt to remove him an “attempted coup.”
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They know it’s a hoax. It’s a witch hunt. And it’s just a continuation. It’s been going on now for almost three years, and it probably started before I even won the election, based on what we’re finding out with the insurance policy quotes and other things. So it’s a disgrace.
AMY GOODMAN: Trump lashed out at Democrats Tuesday in a six-page letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, accusing her, quote, of “declaring open war on American Democracy.” Trump called the impeachment process an “illegal, partisan attempted coup.” He also falsely claimed “More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials.”
Meanwhile, protesters held rallies calling for Trump’s impeachment in cities across the country, including Boston, New Orleans, Houston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Tucson, Austin, Seattle, Des Moines and here in New York.
OBIE HUNT: Republican senators just already made up their minds. And that’s what I think is terrible. If they were jurors, you wouldn’t even be sitting on a jury if you said you already made up your mind. You know, they should do what’s best for the country and not the party.
AMY GOODMAN: All of this comes after some Democrats have pushed to impeach Trump for years. In a minute, we’ll be joined by Texas Democratic Congressmember Al Green. In 2017, he became the first congressmember to go to the House floor to call for President Trump’s impeachment, then twice more after that.
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 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. …
When he said that there were some s-hole countries as he was addressing his immigration policy, he was putting his bigotry into policy. And that is something that we all should all concern ourselves with, the fact that the president’s policies are based upon his bigotry. Impeachment is the remedy. …
It’s time for people to decide: Are we going to take on bigotry, or are we going to allow it to fester and grow? You don’t eliminate bigotry by dealing with it in a politically expedient way. You have to take it head on. … I’m concerned that if we don’t impeach this president, he will get re-elected. If we don’t impeach him, he will say he has been vindicated.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Houston Congressmember Al Green, repeatedly calling for impeachment from the House floor, joining us now on this historic day, what many are calling “Impeachment Day.”
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Congressmember Green. Your thoughts on this day?
REP. AL GREEN: Well, thank you for having me, Ms. Goodman. This is a day for us to reflect upon love of country. We are at the crossroads of accountability. Either we will hold the president accountable for his impeachable behavior, or we will be held accountable.
But as important as that is, it will also mean that we will lose some of our democracy. A president has to have guardrails. A president has to know that there are boundaries. If the president perceives that there are no boundaries, and does what he has concluded is within his “all power” granted under Article II, then I think we will lose some of our democracy, and we march toward a monarchy. We didn’t buy into a monarchy. We bought into a democracy. And as Franklin said, “We have this Republic if we can keep it.” I plan to do all that I can to help us keep the republic that I love.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, what’s interesting, Congressman Green, is you have been calling for this repeatedly for the last two years for different reasons, among them racism. Can you talk about what it means at this point that it has been narrowed, these two charges against Trump, to abuse of power and obstruction of Congress? Are you satisfied with this?
REP. AL GREEN: Initially, Ms. Goodman, the call was for his obstruction as it relates to the investigation into his campaign, the Russian intrusion into the campaign and into our election. You might recall that Mr. Comey was fired summarily, and the president went on national TV at primetime and confessed that he was considering the investigation.
But I then moved on, because I saw the level of bigotry emanating from the presidency. I saw the various invidious phobias that he tended to project and to push. I saw how the country was starting to become more unsettled as a result of this. I represent a good many people, Ms. Goodman, who are suffering because of the president’s incisive, incitive comments. The president has been very inciteful with some of his language, and people are suffering. I represent Latinos, who are very concerned about their safety after a man who heard the president talk about “invaders” coming to this country from Mexico and then went some hundreds of miles to do what he could to cause harm to people. I represent people who are Muslims, who are concerned because of the ban that the president sought to implement on Muslims. I represent people who are members of the LGBTQ+ community, who are concerned because they believe that if the president can ban a trans person from the military, he can do other things to people from the community. With all of this in mind, it became pretty clear to me that there was a need to call these things to the attention of the American people.
And also, understanding that in 1868 Andrew Johnson was impeached for reasons rooted in bigotry, rooted in hate, rooted in racism, it was then that I concluded that the scion of slavery, which is racism, had to be addressed. And we have brought these articles of impeachment dealing with the bigotry, the hatred, the homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, all of the invidious phobias, the anti-Semitism. We brought three articles of impeachment addressing these things, understanding, of course, that the House of Representatives went so far as to condemn the president for his racist comments. But that wasn’t enough. Condemnation was, at best, impeachment-lite. If Andrew Johnson could be impeached, in Article 10 of the articles of impeachment against him, for reasons rooted in his hatred, his bigotry and racism, this president can be impeached for these reasons, as well.
Now, to answer your question more specifically: Am I satisfied? I am at a point wherein I believe that we must go forward with these articles of impeachment. I do not believe that the Constitution prohibits additional articles of impeachment. By way of example, if the president does what he says he can do and go out on Fifth Avenue and shoot someone, I would bring articles of impeachment against him if he does this with malice of forethought. No one is above the law. The president can’t contend that I can only be impeached once, and therefore I can do whatever I want now, and you won’t be able to impeach me. That’s ridiculous. It’s as ridiculous as a lot of the other things that border on inanity that the president continues to wallow in. So, yes, this may not be the end of it. I don’t say that it is or is not. I do say that the Constitution allows us to impeach a president multiple times if the president commits multiple impeachable acts.
AMY GOODMAN: Multiple times. Well, I wanted to go to your December 4th memo that you sent to House members urging them to include what you were just describing, Trump’s racism, in the articles of impeachment, talking about his disparaging comments about migrants, about Muslims, his remark that there were “very fine people on both sides” in the Charlottesville white supremacist rallies. I’m wondering what the response has been to this. I mean, you’ve been calling for impeachment since Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, has said, absolutely, impeachment is off the table.
REP. AL GREEN: Well, I didn’t do it because of any comments anyone else made; I did it because of the president’s behavior. And I think that this is — this was something that others decided that they would come to the position that they currently occupy after much deliberation. I believe that that was an appropriate thing for people to do, because it’s a question of conscience for everybody.
And I believe that we have helped to shape the debate, and I think that we are in this position, in part, because of those three times that we brought impeachment to a vote — the first time, 58 votes; the second time, 66; the third time, 95. And when the 95 voted, we were at a point wherein the Democratic Caucus, nearly half of the caucus, was supportive of it on record. Obviously, there were many others that were supportive of it that had not gone on record. And I think that this has brought us to this point in our history.
But it’s not a point that I’m gleeful about. There’s no schadenfreude associated with my commentary, Ms. Goodman. This is a sad time. It’s not a time to revel and not a time to celebrate. It really is a sad time, because we are at the crossroads of accountability in our country. And we’ve got to do that which will help us preserve our democracy and defend our republic.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and come back to this discussion with Congressmember Al Green, Texas Democrat, the first congressmember to call for President Trump’s impeachment from the floor of the House. We’ll be joined by another Green, as well. That’s Mark Green, who wrote, with Ralph Nader, the new book, Fake President. And Dahlia Lithwick will be with us, of Slate. Stay with us.