House Democrats start impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump

The calls for Mr Trump's impeachment have created some discord throughout the Democratic party 

Alexandra Wilts
Washington DC
Wednesday 15 November 2017 16:22
House Democrats start impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump

Six Democrats in the House of Representatives have introduced articles of impeachment targeting President Donald Trump.

The legislators singled out five of Mr Trump's actions they say merit impeachment, including his decision to fire FBI director James Comey in May.

They assert that Mr Trump obstructed justice by dismissing the top law enforcement official, who was leading a federal investigation into alleged ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. Mr Trump has insisted that there was no collusion between his campaign's advisers and the Kremlin.

“Given the magnitude of the constitutional crisis, there’s no reason for delay,” said Representative Steve Cohen, the sponsor of the resolution. Creating a constitutional crisis would mean the President has disregarded checks on the executive branch.

Joining Mr Cohen in endorsing the articles are Democratic Representatives Luis Gutiérrez, Al Green, Adriano Espaillat, Marcia Fudge and John Yarmuth.

“We believe that President Trump has violated the Constitution, and we've introduced five articles of impeachment,” Mr Cohen said at a press conference.

Mr Cohen in August said he intended to introduce impeachment articles against Mr Trump over the President's response to a violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

During the summer, white supremacist demonstrators descended on the Virginia city to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee. The rally, met by counter-protests, quickly became violent – prompting the governor to declare a ‘state of emergency’.

Mr Trump has received widespread bipartisan criticism for his comments insisting that white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups did not deserve 100 per cent of the blame for the violence that resulted in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

Mr Green had introduced impeachment articles of his own last month, asserting on the House floor that Mr Trump’s Charlottesville response, his attack on NFL players who knelt during the national anthem in protest, and his debunked claim that Barack Obama had wire-tapped him, had all undermined the integrity of the Oval Office and “brought disrepute on the presidency”.

The articles introduced on Wednesday accuse Mr Trump of violating the foreign emoluments clause –– which bars public officials from receiving gifts from foreign governments without Congress’s consent – and the domestic emoluments clause, which prohibits the president from profiting from his office.

The Democrats also claim that Mr Trump has undermined two of the country’s most important institutions – the courts and the press – in ways that threaten the health of American democracy.

So far, the move for impeachment proceedings is supported by only a small number of Democrats. The calls for removing Mr Trump from office have also created some discord throughout the party.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has called the effort premature amid the ongoing Russia investigations. She has also said that impeachment must be rooted in facts rather than personal opinions about the President.

According to the newspaper The Hill, House minority whip Representative Steny Hoyer told reporters on Wednesday: “There are a large number of Democrats that believe this president ought to be impeached, we have just a made a judgment that the facts aren’t there to pursue that.”

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