Rep. Al Green (D-TX) became the first member of Congress to officially read articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on the floor on Wednesday — and the president’s Twitter account is at the center of Trump’s alleged “crimes and misdemeanors.”
Green’s proposal is going nowhere, given that Republicans control the House and Senate and even Democrats have been quick to ridicule the idea that Trump should be impeached anytime soon.
Green read the articles of impeachment on the House floor but did not formally introduce them. He told Vox he wanted to give members of Congress and the public "an opportunity to read them" before a vote.
"I want my colleagues to read this and be informed," he said. (The Washington Post reported that pressure from Democratic leadership may have led Green to not formally introduce the plan; Green disputed that in our interview, saying he never intended to formally file the resolution today.)
In a 15-page document, which was provided to Vox and can be read in full below, Green says the president should be impeached for tweeting “disparaging” remarks about NFL players, Puerto Ricans, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and President Barack Obama. Green’s articles of impeachment do not mention Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, and they do not try to mount the case that the president has committed obstruction of justice or any other crime.
Indeed, Green makes clear that he doesn’t believe the Constitution requires “the commission of a crime” for a president to be impeached. Rather, he says, the “high crimes and misdemeanors” referred to in Article II, Section IV consist of actions “which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political.”
"The Constitution does not required a crime to be committed for a president to be impeached," Green told me. "If we had a president who insisted Hitler was right ... we would impeach that president even if he was exercising free speech that he has every right to exercise."
Among the “high crimes” Trump has committed, Green charges, are falsely claiming President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, which amounted to “engendering racial antipathy”; vowing to ban transgender people from the military, which “incited bigotry”; and calling NFL players “sons of dogs” by calling them “sons of bitches.”
As a result, the resolution states:
Donald John Trump, president of the United States of America, unmindful of the high duties of his high office and the dignity and proprieties thereof, and of the harmony, respect, and courtesies which ought to exist and be maintained in American society, has under the inane pretext of dispensing with political correctness, produced a demonstrable record of inciting white supremacy, sexism, bigotry, hatred, xenophobia, race-baiting, and racism by demeaning, defaming, disrespecting, and disparaging women and certain minorities. In so doing, Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America, has fueled and is fueling an alt-right hate machine and its worldwide covert sympathizers engendering racial antipathy, LGBTQ enmity, religious anxiety, stealthy sexism, and dreadful xenophobia, perfidiously causing immediate injury to American society.
Most Democrats say it’s way too early to advance calls of impeachment
In an interview this May, Green said he recognized that his articles of impeachment were unlikely to go anywhere in the Republican-controlled Congress. At the time, he argued that Trump should be impeached for obstructing justice by firing Comey — a charge that doesn’t appear in his articles of impeachment.
“This is not something I wanted to do. It’s not something I looked forward to doing,” Green said. “But when I put it all together on paper, it sure looked like he committed an obstruction of justice. So I felt like I had to go forward.”
On Wednesday, Green said he still believed the obstruction of justice charge may amount to an impeachable offense, but argued that Trump’s charge against NFL players was his “last straw,” so he drafted the resolution based on that. Green wrote the document himself after consulting with constitutional scholars, he said.
“The Comey firing is something that is still subject to impeachment, but the last straw for me was when the president called the NFL men who played football ‘sons of Bs,’” Green said. “He called their mothers dogs.”
Green received a litany of death threats since first formally requesting charges leading to Trump’s impeachment. Since then, hundreds of calls, emails, and letters have flooded in, with dozens containing racial slurs or death threats. (Green’s staff has made three of the worst ones public here.) Aides say they have received far more feedback over Green’s impeachment speech alone than they have in the rest of this congressional term. Green was in contact with the FBI for his safety.
“When you hear people say [in these recordings] that they want to murder you, that’s what lynching is,” Green told me in May. “That sends a powerful message. No matter your station in life, there are people who believe that if you’re a person of color, you can be intimidated with the threat of lynching.”
The Conservative Review accused Green of having an “imbecilic” case of “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” Even Senate Democrats have almost uniformly resisted the approximately 20 House Democrats who have called for impeachment — with several telling me in interviews this May that doing so is too early and reeks of partisanship.
But Green said he thinks it’s the right thing to do. "Sometimes you have to stand alone. The truest measure of a person is not where you stand in times of comfort and convenience," he added. "I am prepared to stand alone."