Plenty of Democrats have been crying out for this move, but up until now Speaker Pelosi has managed to keep their powder dry. It looks like it took Congressman Al Green’s move to impeach after they denounced the President’s tweets to kick things into action. The House will vote later today on whether or not to move forward with this proposal. (NBC News)
The House will vote on Wednesday on a resolution to impeach President Donald Trump, marking the first time the Democrat-controlled chamber has weighed in on the divisive issue.
It’s unclear whether the House will vote to send the resolution to committee, to table it — effectively killing the measure — or vote to proceed forward with it.
We should be clear in pointing out that this isn’t a vote for impeachment. It’s a procedural step in the process. The members can either vote to send the resolution to committee (where it will likely gather dust) or to actually proceed forward with debate and possibly an eventual vote to impeach the President.
Is this anything more than a show of good faith by Pelosi so she can say, hey, at least I tried? The House isn’t in a situation where they’re only concerned with whether or not any Republicans will vote for this. Odds are they might pick up three or four GOP nods as they did on the vote condemning Trump’s tweets. But it’s in no way clear if they have enough Democrats ready to head down this road.
Nancy Pelosi isn’t the only Democrat standing in the way of impeachment. Plenty of other Democrats are obviously concerned about the fallout from an impeachment effort that will eventually fail in the Senate anyway. (Cocaine Mitch has been pretty clear on that score.) But this vote will put them all on record and may wind up being fodder for primary challenges against Democrats next year, so it’s hard to say where the final count falls. I’d still expect it to be sent to committee, but this is 2019 and we all need to be ready for surprises at every turn.
In addition to this impeachment show, they’re also going to try to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt of Congress. It sounds like the grounds for that action have to do with documents being withheld during hearings about the citizenship question on the census. That one is more likely to make it through, mostly on party lines.
That’s not a done deal after the vote either, though. Even if the full house by a majority vote agrees to the contempt charges, the case is then handed off to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia who needs to present it before a grand jury. (By the way, that person is currently Jessie K. Liu, a Trump appointee.) So how much further this goes remains up in the air. Even if finally convicted, both men would be hit with a misdemeanor that carries a maximum of twelve months in jail and a $1,000 fine.