"And still I rise, Madam Speaker," Congressmember Al Green, Democrat of Houston, said, opening his statement during the House hearing on the impeachment of President Donald Trump. Those words were taken from Maya Angelou's poem, "Still I Rise":
"You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise."
Angelou died five years ago but was very present in the House chamber during the historic hearing. Later in the proceedings, Maxine Waters opened her fiery remarks: "Unfortunately, the rules of debate won't allow me to cite all of the reasons why this president should be impeached; there are many. However … to quote the late Maya Angelou, 'When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.'"
Al Green and Maxine Waters, both prominent African American members of Congress, have been leading the drive for impeachment. Green first brought impeachment to the House floor in May 2017. Within days, he was receiving racist death threats. One caller left a voicemail that threatened: "You ain't gonna impeach nobody, you [bleep]. Try it, and we'll lynch all you [bleep]. You'll be hanging from a tree."
He has managed to get a vote on impeachment three times. In December 2017, 57 members of Congress joined him. Less than two months later, the number climbed to 65. Last July, 94 voted with him. Maxine Waters is among the first members of Congress to call for Trump's impeachment, and has done so tenaciously.
Al Green delivered his remarks Wednesday beside a large poster bearing the phrase "Impeach Now" and the image of a young Honduran girl crying as her mother is being searched by Customs and Border Protection in June 2018. The iconic photo of Sandra Maria Sanchez and her daughter Yanela went viral, capturing the cruelty of Trump's harsh immigrant detention policy. Green said: "I rise because I love my country. Madam Speaker, shall any man be beyond justice? This is the question posed in 1787 by George Mason at the Constitutional Convention."
The Houston congressman continued: "In the name of democracy, on behalf of the republic, and for the sake of the many who are suffering [Green pointed to the poster at this point], I will vote to impeach and I encourage my colleagues to do so as well. No one is beyond justice in this country."
On December 4, Green sent a memo to members of Congress that opened, "How will history judge this Congress that passed a resolution indicating President Trump made harmful, racist comments if it does not impeach him for his impeachable racist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, transphobic, xenophobic language instigating enmity and inciting violence within our society?"
Donald Trump is only the third president in the country's history to be impeached, along with Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Neither Johnson nor Clinton was ultimately removed from office by a vote in the Senate. Richard Nixon faced impeachment in the House and removal from office by the Senate in 1974 but opted to resign instead to avoid that certain outcome.
While Maxine Waters, along with Al Green and many others, have a long list of Trump's offenses they consider impeachable, the House Democrats settled on just two: abuse of power, related to his attempts to pressure Ukraine to dig up dirt on his political rival, Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden, and the obstruction of Congress' investigation into that abuse of power.
"Am I satisfied?" Al Green asked, speaking on the "Democracy Now!" news hour Wednesday morning, hours before Trump's impeachment hearing began. "I am at a point wherein I believe that we must go forward with these articles of impeachment. I do not believe that the Constitution prohibits additional articles of impeachment."
Green represents a majority minority district in southwest Houston. He continued, on "Democracy Now!," "If Andrew Johnson could be impeached, in Article 10 of the articles of impeachment against him, for reasons rooted in his hatred, his bigotry and racism, this president can be impeached for these reasons, as well."
At this point, it seems clear that the Republican-controlled Senate will acquit Trump of these articles of impeachment, and he will remain in office. But that does not deter Congressman Al Green.
"This may not be the end of it," Green concluded. "The Constitution allows us to impeach a president multiple times if the president commits multiple impeachable acts."
Amy Goodman is the host of Democracy Now!, a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,300 stations. She is the co-author, with Denis Moynihan, of The Silenced Majority, a New York Times bestseller. This column originally appeared on Democracy Now!
Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr
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