WASHINGTON — A half-dozen Democrats on Wednesday introduced articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, accusing him of obstruction of justice and other offenses, in a long-shot effort that stands little chance in the Republican-led House.
Indeed, the large majority of Democrats seem intent on having nothing to do with the effort either as lawmakers await the results of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Democratic leaders have argued that the impeachment campaign riles up Trump's GOP base, a critical bloc in next year's midterm elections.
The five articles accused the president of obstruction of justice related to the FBI investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, undermining the independence of the federal judiciary and other offenses.
"We have taken this action because of great concerns for the country and our Constitution and our national security and our democracy," Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said at a news conference to announce the effort.
Cohen said he understands that Republicans hold the majority in the House and are unlikely to allow hearings on the impeachment articles. He said the group will hold occasional briefings to explain each of the five articles of impeachment and where they believe Trump ran afoul of the law or committed misdeeds that warrant impeachment.
The obstruction of justice allegation stems from Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey, which the lawmakers say was designed to delay and impede an investigation.
The articles of impeachment also charge that Trump has accepted without the consent of Congress emoluments from foreign states and from the U.S. government. Finally, the articles of impeachment allege he has undermined the federal judiciary and the freedom of the press.
Cohen and other leaders of the impeachment effort disagreed that their effort could hurt Democrats in next year's congressional elections.
"I think the Democratic base needs to be activated. The Democratic base needs to know there are members of Congress willing to stand up against this president," Cohen said.
Other lawmakers who have signed onto to the resolution are Democratic Reps. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, Al Green of Texas, Marcia Fudge of Ohio, Adriano Espaillat of New York and John Yarmuth of Kentucky.
Gutierrez said he wasn't afraid to support the resolution despite the concerns of some fellow Democrats.
"I see a crime and I have a responsibility to dial 911 immediately. I don't call and try to reach my consensus with all my neighbors and all my friends and those whose opinion I might seek out," Gutierrez said.
A spokesman for the Republican National Committee criticized the effort.
"House Democrats lack a positive message and are completely unwilling to work across the aisle, so instead they've decided to support a baseless radical effort that the vast majority of Americans disagree with," said spokesman Michael Ahrens.