Democrats kick off new Congress with new articles of impeachment against Trump

Rep. Brad Sherman of California wants to start the impeachment process against Trump right now

By Matthew Rozsa

Published January 3, 2019 5:44PM (EST)

 (Getty/Ringo Chiu)
(Getty/Ringo Chiu)

At least one House Democrat is wasting no time in pushing for impeachment proceedings to begin against President Donald Trump.

"There is no reason it shouldn’t be before the Congress," Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., told The Los Angeles Times on Thursday about articles of impeachment that he has proposed. "Every day, Donald Trump shows that leaving the White House would be good for our country."

Sherman's articles of impeachment accuse Trump of various acts of illegal wrongdoing, including obstructing justice by firing former FBI Director James Comey. His decision to do this puts him at odds with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has said that she wants to wait on the outcome of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation before deciding whether to impeach Trump.

"Every member of the House will have to address [the issue] whether there are formal articles of impeachment pending," Sherman said when the issue of his being at odds with Pelosi was broached.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, has also expressed concern about impeaching Trump, in this case regarding the potential political consequences of such an action.

"If you’re serious about removing a president from office, what you’re really doing is overturning the result of the last election," Nadler told Roll Call in November. "You don’t want to have a situation where you tear this country apart and for the next 30 years half the country’s saying ‘We won the election, you stole it.’"

He added, "I’m talking about the voters, people who voted for Trump. Do you think that the case is so stark, that the offenses are so terrible and the proof so clear, that once you’ve laid it all out you will have convinced an appreciable fraction of the people who voted for Trump, who like him, that you had no choice? That you had to do it?"

The biggest practical impediment to removing Trump from office is that — although the House of Representatives can alone impeach him and Democrats now control that body — two-thirds of the Senate must vote to convict for him to be forcibly removed, which would require the defection of twenty Republican senators.

"Right now, it is hard to envision," David Priess, a former CIA officer who wrote a book on removing presidents, told Salon last month. "I went back and looked at some of the sources in 1973, in early 1974 and it is eerie the parallels, both from the president saying that the investigation into him as a witch hunt, but also from the president's political allies on the hill, adding up those numbers and saying, 'Yeah, they can investigate all they want, but the numbers just aren't there to do a conviction on an impeachment charge.' Well, that turned pretty quickly. Suddenly you went from something that was seen as impossible to something that was seen as inevitable within a matter of weeks in 1974."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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