WASHINGTON — Two House Democrats are launching a longshot bid to impeach President Donald Trump, a step that illustrates the deep political divide engulfing Washington and much of the country.
The effort by Reps. Al Green of Texas and Brad Sherman of California has little chance of success in the Republican-led House. They don’t even have the backing of many fellow Democrats.
Nevertheless, the lawmakers said Wednesday they are drafting articles of impeachment. They say Trump obstructed justice when he fired FBI Director James Comey, who was investigating possible Russian ties to the Trump campaign. Federal authorities say they have definitive evidence that the Kremlin meddled in the U.S. presidential election.
“The question really is whether the president can obstruct justice with impunity,” Green said. “We live in a country where no congressmen, no senator and not even the president of the United States of America is above the law.”
Talk of impeachment could fire up both the Democratic and Republican bases.
To many Democrats and liberals, Trump is an ethically-challenged narcissist who tweets ridiculous statements at all hours of the day and night. To Trump supporters, he is a bona fide maverick who is keeping his promises by shaking up the Washington establishment.
The ugliness of the divide played out after Green first called for Trump to be impeached in a speech last month. Green, who is black, said his offices in Texas and Washington received phone calls from people calling him the N-word and saying he should be lynched.
He recently played tapes of several calls at a town hall meeting in his district.
Green said the U.S. Capitol police dispatched two officers to his Houston district to guard him while Congress was in recess last week.
“No amount of intimidation will deter me,” Green said. “It may enhance my resolve.”
Neither Green nor Sherman would give a definitive timeline on when they plan to file the articles of impeachment. Sherman said they would be filed in weeks, not months.
Sherman acknowledged that any vote in the House to impeach Trump would fail — unless further evidence of possible wrongdoing comes to light.
Since Comey’s firing, the Justice Department has appointed a special counsel, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, to oversee the federal investigation.
Comey is scheduled to testify before the Senate intelligence committee Thursday. In prepared remarks released by the committee Wednesday, Comey says Trump sought his “loyalty” and asked what could be done to “lift the cloud” of investigation shadowing his administration.
Democratic leaders have distanced themselves from talk of impeachment, saying they want to see the outcome of the investigation.
“I can only speak for my personal views, and I think that a majority of the (Democratic) caucus is of the belief that we ought to allow the investigation to continue to its logical conclusion before making any determination,” said Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., the vice chairwoman of the Democratic Caucus.