Rep. Green: Public Must Know Trump Doesn’t Have to Commit Crime to be Impeached

Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) calls for the impeachment of President Trump at his Houston district office on May 15, 2017. (Godofredo A. Vasquez/Houston Chronicle via AP)

WASHINGTON – Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) told PJM that the Democrats have to do a better job of informing the public that Congress could still impeach President Trump even if former FBI Director Bob Mueller’s Russia investigation concludes that he did not commit any crimes.

Green, who introduced articles of impeachment a month ago but didn’t force a vote on the House floor, said the Founding Fathers did not want the executive branch to “investigate itself,” and stressed that the president’s ultimate fate still rests with Congress.

“When it’s outsourced to a person who has a criminal investigation, people assume that the president must commit a crime to be impeached – not true. Impeachment is political. What Mr. Mueller is doing is a criminal investigation. He may or may not conclude that the president has committed a criminal offense,” Green said during an interview after his speech at the recent Legislative & Policy Conference organized by Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN) on Capitol Hill.

“So what will we do then if he concludes that the president hasn’t committed a criminal offense and we’ve built all of this momentum around his finding that he has?” he added. “We have to let the public know that the president doesn’t have to commit a criminal offense to be impeached. The word ‘misdemeanor’ in high crimes and misdemeanors means misdeeds – go to the dictionary, you will see it.”

Green said Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey would serve as the basis for impeachment, but that Trump could be also impeached for something else. He compared the current situation to former President Andrew Johnson, impeached for “bad mouthing” Congress, according to the congressman.

“Article 2, Section 4 of the Constitution was drafted so that a president wouldn’t be able to do exactly what this president is doing. It was drafted for a time such as this and a president such as Trump,” Green said.

“Yes, articles of impeachment can be firing, but also for the harm he’s doing to society by way of his perfidy.”

When asked if he thinks Democrats should pursue impeachment if they run on that message in the midterm election and take control of Congress, Green replied, “What I am doing is not about Democrats. It’s about democracy.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, told PJM that the Democratic Party’s goal is to take back the majority so the American people can be “vindicated.”

“We believe that the abuse of power is clearly an element of impeachment. I believe there are elements of President Trump’s performance that show that – high crimes and misdemeanors will be determined as it relates to the investigation; Mr. Mueller,” she said after her remarks at the National Action Network event.

“My point is that we are on a road now that is investigating Mr. Trump thoroughly. The procedures in the House, the impeachment has to be done by Congress and if Republicans are in charge there will be no action, plain and simple. My goal is to win in 2018 so that the American people can be vindicated with respect to a president that really does not deserve the highest office in the land,” she added.

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) told PJM it’s too early for the Democrats to call for Trump’s impeachment.

“My opinion is that we don’t have enough right now to commence impeachment proceedings, especially given the fact that it’s only Democrats who are moving for impeachment. We don’t have enough votes to make it happen, so in order for impeachment to prevail you have to have some Republicans who are on board and right now that is not the case. It seems to me we need to be addressing the issues Americans care about in terms of their pocketbooks,” said Johnson, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, at a reception held to honor Sharpton for 50 years of service.

“We need to be educating the American people about what this tax [reform] deal is going to do for them, how it affects their pocketbooks – because that’s how we are going to retake the House and perhaps the Senate in 2018,” he added. “It’s all about what we do in order to gain control of the House and Senate. Once we have control of the House, then we can commence impeachment proceedings based on the facts that lie at that time.”