In lopsided vote, House kills effort to impeach Trump

The measure was being pushed by Texas Rep. Al Green, who says the president is unfit for office.

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By Alex Moe and Jane C. Timm

The House voted on Wednesday to table a resolution from Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, to impeach President Donald Trump over racist comments he made about four Democratic congresswomen of color, effectively killing the measure.

The vote — 332 to 95, with one lawmaker voting "present" — marked the first time the Democratic-controlled chamber had weighed in on impeachment, an issue that has created a widening schism within the party. Progressive newcomers and several 2020 candidates have pushed for impeachment proceedings, but the House leadership, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has been resistant.

All Republicans joined with 137 Democrats and the lone independent, Justin Amash, to table the resolution. Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., voted against killing the resolution, which his spokesperson said was because Nadler believed the House should have first sent it to his committee for consideration.

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Pelosi, D-Calif., said Wednesday morning that she does not support the resolution.

"We have six committees working on following the facts in terms of any abuse of power, obstruction of justice and the rest that the president may have engaged in," she said at a news conference. "That is the serious path we’re on — not that Mr. Green is not serious, but we'll deal with that on the floor."

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Trump lashed out at the resolution on Twitter, calling it "the most ridiculous and time consuming project I have ever had to work on."

After the impeachment resolution, the House overwhelmingly voted to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt of Congress for withholding information about the administration's failed bid to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The House scheduled the vote after Barr and Ross withheld documents that had been subpoenaed by the Oversight and Reform Committee as part of its probe into the origins of the now-scuttled citizenship question.

On impeachment, Green forced the vote by reading his proposed articles of impeachment on Tuesday night.

He cited Trump's recent remarks about four Democratic congresswoman of color, which the House voted to condemn as racist on Tuesday, as cause for seeking the president's removal from office.

Trump's comments "have legitimatized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color," Green said Tuesday night on the House floor. "Donald John Trump, by causing such harm to the society of the United States, is unfit to be president and warrants impeachment, trial and removal from office."

Green had told reporters on Wednesday that he hoped the House would vote for impeachment, not to table or refer it to committee. He said "bigotry" qualified as a "high crime and misdemeanor."

Green rejected questions about whether he should hold on impeachment proceedings until after the testimony of former special counsel Robert Mueller next week.

"The Mueller testimony has nothing to do with his bigotry. Nothing. Zero. Nada," Green said. "We cannot wait. As we wait, we risk having the blood of somebody on our hands — and it could be a member of Congress."

Green has been gunning to impeach Trump for years — his latest effort is his third attempt. He most recently offered articles of impeachment when Republicans controlled the House in January 2018, after the president derided immigrants from Haiti and some African countries. The House voted to table that resolution, with 121 Democrats joined 234 Republicans to effectively kill the measure.

More than 80 members of the House have called for opening an impeachment inquiry, but some Democratic leaders have resisted, fearing that it would distract from the party's policy agenda, could rally Trump's base, isn't popular with the public and is doomed to fail in the Republican-controlled Senate.

A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that enthusiasm for impeachment may be waning: The July survey found 21 percent of registered voters say that there is enough evidence for Congress to begin impeachment hearings now. In June, 27 percent in the poll the same thing, a 6-point drop in one month — though that survey was of Americans, not registered voters.