The grand jury indictments of former Trump campaign executive Paul Manafort and his longtime deputy Rick Gates (as well a billionaire Tom Steyer's World Series Ad pushing for Trump Impeachment) have apparently emboldened another progressive House Democrat to file articles of impeach against Trump, as murmurs about bringing the bill to a floor vote grow steadily louder despite Nancy Pelosi’s desperate insistence that they would risk politicizing the Mueller probe and damaging the Dems during the 2018 midterms.
This time, it’s Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), who’s leading the charge. Gutierrez, who told the Hill he's planning to file the articles but didn't specify a timeline, is the third House Dem to file articles of impeachment, joining Trump antagonists Brad Sherman (Calif.) and Al Green (Texas) who both filed the articles earlier this year. While none of the proposals are likely to gain traction, Green has taken his the furthest by pushing - unsuccessfully- last month to bring it to the floor for a vote.
By introducing the articles, which also followed the revelation that former Trump policy adviser George Papadopoulos had turned state’s witness over the summer, the Hill says support for a group of renegade Democrats to defy Pelosi and bring the bill to the floor is growing.
As a reminder, here's what an impeachment would look like, courtesy of Statista.
However, Gutiérrez, whom the Hill identified as one of Trump’s sharpest critics, declined to specify what grounds the articles will cite, saying only that the Democrats are working with constitutional scholars to solidify their case. Though it’s not unreasonable to expect that the recent Mueller probe developments will be invoked, even though Manafort and Gates’s criminal behavior had no apparent connection to the campaign.
“I assure you we will not leave you lacking for reason,” he said.
It’s also unclear which Democrats will join Gutiérrez in the effort, though an aide said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) might jump on the bandwagon. Cohen in August announced his intent to introduce impeachment articles, citing Trump’s response to a deadly attack in Charlottesville, but never followed through.
Democratic leaders have sought throughout the year to discourage impeachment efforts against Trump, fearing it could politicize the ongoing investigations into Russian hacking of the 2016 election and potential collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign. Behind House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), top Democrats are awaiting the outcome of those probes, particularly the one being conducted by Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor appointed by the Justice Department in May.
“I’m in no rush to be first, but I will say this: We have to – we have to bring it to the floor,” Green said.
Green acknowledged that some Democrats might be agitated by the aggressive impeachment push while the Mueller investigation continues. But he’s growing impatient, warning that “history won’t be kind” to those lawmakers who sit idle amid the swirl of controversies surrounding Trump.
Of course the Democrats - never ones to skimp on the sanctimony - tried to frame the impeachment vote as a battle to wind up on the "right side" of history.
“I can’t let my record show this,” Green said. “The people who will probably judge us, probably haven’t been born.”
Gutiérrez seems to agree, and he’s glad to have a growing coalition to help him make the case.
“I appreciate what single members have done,” Gutiérrez said. “I think it’s time to do a group.”
Assuming lawmakers somehow manage to bring the vote to the floor - which is incredibly unlikely considering Republicans outnumber Democrats by 45 lawmakers - the question would then become: Would the impeachment proceedings help the Democrats’ cause of retaking Congress during the upcoming midterm elections? Or would it wreck the Democrats’ credibility in the eyes of the swing voters they’re hoping to court?