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House Speaker Pelosi Opposes Rep. Green's Push To Impeach Trump


New Mexico's Ben Ray Lujan yesterday became the highest-ranking House Democrat to announce support for impeaching President Trump. The assistant House speaker joined a growing majority of House Democrats who favor that action. One of the first of them was Texas lawmaker Al Green, who originally filed articles of impeachment in the House in 2017. While some Democratic lawmakers believe winning the next election is the best way to remove the President from office, Green does not want to wait.

AL GREEN: The way to deal with this is not just to defeat an unfit president but to impeach, as well.

GREENE: NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales caught up with the congressman in his district in Houston.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Al Green's impeachment case against Donald Trump started in a law school class at Texas Southern University in the early 1970s. It was there that Green learned the legal ins and outs of bringing charges against a sitting president.

GREEN: And my guess is if I hadn't gone to law school, I wouldn't have had that sense of how to remove a president from office.

GRISALES: The Houston-area Democrat quietly filed his first articles of impeachment the day before Trump was sworn in as president. Green boycotted his inauguration. About four months later, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Green viewed that move as the president obstructing an investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 campaign. And within days, Green took his case of impeaching the president to the House floor.


GREEN: I am a voice in the wilderness, but I assure you that history will vindicate me.

GRISALES: More than two years later, there's more voices in that wilderness. Green has now brought his articles of impeachment to the House floor three times. But now he has more help making the case. A majority of House Democrats are publicly calling for impeachment. This week, the No. 4 Democrat, Representative Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, became the latest. Again, Green.

GREEN: Things start with a spark. And sometimes the spark is ignored. Other times, the spark can cause others to become consumed with the righteousness of a cause and participate in the cause itself.

GRISALES: But Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not onboard with Green yet, saying they still need to finish their investigations.


NANCY PELOSI: With all the respect in the world for him, we have six committees that are working on following the facts.

GRISALES: Green isn't focusing his message on Pelosi right now. But he's frustrated with Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler. Nadler is the one who would lead any impeachment inquiry into the president. And Green thinks he's sending mixed messages on where he stands.

GREEN: If you're for it, you say it. And if you're not, then you own it, and then history will judge us all.

GRISALES: Most members supporting impeachment represents safe Democratic districts. But Green is convinced that more House Democrats will sign on. The eight-term congressman has been on a bit of an impeachment tour this summer, from Michigan to Mississippi. He's saying the way to galvanize support is to start with one person and take your message around the country.

GREEN: Everything can start with a single person. It's called the power of one. Sometimes things start with one person, and then they multiply.

GRISALES: Green expects to bring up his articles of impeachment on the House floor a fourth time after Congress returns from recess next month. Support for impeachment has grown, but Green still needs it from the one who matters most - Speaker Pelosi.

Claudia Grisales, NPR News, Houston.

(SOUNDBITE OF GOGO PENGUIN'S "RETURN TO TEXT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.