Trump Impeachment Efforts Will Get Their Biggest Push Yet From Democrats Before Thanksgiving

Donald Trump, Melania Trump
President Donald Trump and Melania Trump host Halloween on the White House's South Lawn on October 30. Multiple members of the House Judiciary Committee are set to file articles of impeachment against the president. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee said Tuesday that he and a group of colleagues on the panel would be filing articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump before Thanksgiving.

Representative Luis Gutiérrez of Illinois made the comments a day after special counsel Robert Mueller issued the first indictments in his investigation into whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.

Related: Over 1 million people want Trump impeached, as his approval rating reaches record lows

If the move Gutiérrez discussed comes to pass, it would be the most significant effort yet by Democrats to remove Trump from office. Previous articles of impeachment have been crafted and filed by Democrats acting alone.

"We appreciate single members putting in on their own articles of impeachment—we're going to use a lot of constitutional scholars and really make a case that the president should be impeached," Gutiérrez said at a City Club of Chicago breakfast, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The effort is also significant because it would involve multiple members of a key committee related to impeachment.

Although it is not necessary for impeachment proceedings to run through the Judiciary Committee, in the cases of both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, the House voted to refer the matter to the panel, which then drafted impeachment articles and voted on whether to send them to the House floor. In the case of Nixon and Watergate, the committee conducted its own investigation.

Joining Gutiérrez in the impeachment effort will be fellow Judiciary Committee member Steve Cohen. The Tennessee congressman announced his own intention to file articles of impeachment following Trump's controversial "both sides" comments about the deadly violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August.

Explaining his delay in doing so two weeks ago, Cohen said he was aiming to get between seven and 10 co-sponsors on board before filing the articles. He also claimed that one Republican was considering backing him.

When contacted by Newsweek Tuesday, Cohen's office did not provide the identity of the members who had so far signed on. However, a spokesman indicated that several members were involved in the process to bring the articles to the House floor.

"Congressman Cohen is the ranking member of the Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution and civil justice, which is the subcommittee with jurisdiction over impeachment," Bartholomew Sullivan, the spokesman, said. "In that capacity, he is working closely with members to arrive at a consensus on final language for articles of impeachment."

Already, articles of impeachment have been filed in the House by two Democrats. California Representative Brad Sherman went before fellow members in July and accused the president of obstruction of justice over his firing of former FBI Director James Comey. Earlier this month, Representative Al Green of Texas, the only member of the House to sign on to Sherman's effort, fielded his own articles of impeachment, accusing Trump of being "unfit" to be president and concluding that he needn't be convicted of a crime to be removed from office.

While the plans by Cohen and Gutiérrez would represent a step up in the opposition to the president and in efforts to remove him from office, they remain way short of getting the support required to seriously threaten his future in the White House. In making his announcement Tuesday, Gutiérrez stressed that he didn't want "everyone running out of here thinking Nancy Pelosi is behind this, or that the Democratic Party is behind this."

Luis Gutierrez
Democratic Representative Luis Gutierrez speaks to an audience member during a town hall meeting in Chicago on March 6. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Pelosi, the House minority leader, and other leading Democrats have thus far cautioned against rushing into launching impeachment proceedings. And Republicans, who control both the House and the Senate, have shown little or no sign of being ready to back Trump's ouster.

For impeachment to succeed, a majority vote in the House is required, followed by a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate to convict.

The moves of Cohen and Gutiérrez, though, suggest that Trump could face the danger of at least being impeached in the House—as were both Clinton and Andrew Johnson—if Democrats take back control of the chamber in 2018.

That threat is exacerbated by the ongoing and escalating investigation into Russia's attempts to interfere in the 2016 election. Following Monday's indictments of Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates, along with the disclosure that campaign adviser George Papadopoulos had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, a number of Democrats expressed concern and strong opposition to the prospect of Trump firing Mueller.

One Democrat, Ruben Gallego, said that while he did not currently back impeachment, his stance would change were Trump to remove Mueller. Another Democratic House member, Dan Kildee of Michigan, told Newsweek that there would be serious repercussions from both Democrats and Republicans should Trump seek to interfere in the investigation to such an extent.

"I think you would have some very serious conversations between Democrats and Republicans about what our response should be," he said. "If he were to do that, I think Mr. Trump would face very serious and historic consequences."

Trump Impeachment Efforts Will Get Their Biggest Push Yet From Democrats Before Thanksgiving | U.S.