Congressman Al Green’s Memorandum on Impeachment

Dec 4, 2019

(Washington, D.C.) – On Wednesday, December 4, 2019, Congressman Al Green released the following statement:

“Query: 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? How will failure to impeach an unapologetic President Trump for the adverse impact his racism is having on the countless African-American victims who believe that, too often, one party ignores us and the other takes us for granted?

“Dear Colleagues and Friends:

“Love for my country and for the people suffering from presidentially-exacerbated racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia compels me to ask the above questions. The questions are especially important considering the indisputable fact that in 1868 Republicans led the successful impeachment of President Andrew Johnson for reasons rooted in racism. It is also an irrefutable fact that no statutory crime was alleged in Article 10 of the articles of impeachment against President Andrew Johnson when he was impeached for his incitive statements rooted in racism.

“Like President Trump, President Johnson weaponized incitive, racist comments, motivating followers with little regard for the harm caused and lives lost. Both caused impeachable, immeasurable harm by inciting white supremacy. Under both, motivated white supremacists killed, murdered, and massacred. President Johnson’s countenance of the racist New Orleans Riots of 1866 resulted in 38 killed and more than 100 wounded by some estimates. President Trump’s incitive climate of hate motivated the white supremacist who committed the El Paso massacre, where he killed some 22 persons and injured some 24 others.

“If the congressional Republicans of 1868 impeached President Johnson for his abusive, incitive, racist comments causing harm, why can’t the Congress of 2019 impeach President Trump for his abusive, incitive, racist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, transphobic comments causing harm to society? Why should we pass a resolution condemning the President’s racist comments and then get back to racism as usual, where racism is more of a talking point than an action item?

“Our country’s original sin of irreparably harmful slavery continues to haunt us as slavery’s odious incendiary scion – racism. It’s the constant kitchen-table issue for Black people. Regrettably, the President weaponizes racism to the shame of country and detriment of people of color. He has ignored the congressional resolution condemning his racist comments. He’s back to racism as usual, indicating that the resolution was less than a slap on the wrist.

“To those who say that the House resolution condemning the President is enough, I say if impeachment is the remedy for invidious abuse of power related to Ukraine, it should be the remedy for invidious abuse of power related to racism in the United States. If impeachment was just for President Andrew Johnson’s racist actions, it’s just for President Donald Trump’s racist actions.

“To those who say impeachment requires the commission of some statutory crime, I say please stop it. Do some research. If this were true, President Andrew Johnson couldn’t have been impeached in the 10th Article presented against him in 1868 for reasons unrelated to a statutory crime. Read Webster’s full definition of the word ‘crime’ and the word ‘misdemeanor.’ You will find that among other definitions, the definition of a crime is ‘something reprehensible, foolish, or disgraceful.’ You will also find that among other definitions, the definition of a misdemeanor is a ‘misdeed.’ Please note that crimes and misdemeanors need not be unlawful. We must not allow ourselves to be convinced that we cannot do that which has already been constitutionally done.

“To those who say we shouldn’t impeach the President for abuse of power related to his impeachable, incitive, racist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic language causing harm to our society because the Senate won’t convict, I say where is the empirical evidence, the proof that the Senate will convict for any reason? Let’s not have a double standard. With presidential abuse related to Ukraine, our righteous mantra has been ‘We must put principle above politics,’ ‘We must put people above party,’ ‘We must defend democracy and protect the republic,’ ‘We must perform our constitutional duty regardless of what the Senate may do.’ How can we possibly say to the victims of racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and transphobia that we can’t impeach because the Senate won’t convict? In all cases, we must perform our constitutional duty regardless of what the Senate may do. 

“To those who say impeachment related to racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and transphobia ‘will tear this country apart because the time isn’t right for it,’ I say this willingness to take the path of least resistance means turning a blind eye to those who suffer daily from hate in all of its insidious forms. I also say where is the proof that taking a stand for justice against this unjust President will tear this country apart? Additionally, Dr. King was eminently correct – ‘the time is always right to do what is right.’ Impeachment for reasons related to hate was right in 1868. It is right today. It will be right tomorrow and every day that God allows thereafter.

“To those who think impeachment must be driven by polls, I say impeachment is an historic seminal action. Historic seminal actions impacting human rights are not driven by polls. Metaphorically speaking, favorable polls say to cowardice it’s safe, to expediency it’s politic, and to vanity it’s popular. However, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us that on some questions, we must do that which is neither safe nor political nor popular. We must do what conscience tells us is the right thing to do. Impeachment is such a question. Gandhi didn’t engage in civil disobedience because of polls. Malala Yousafzai doesn’t advocate for the education of women and girls because it is safe. Chew Heong didn’t confront the United States government for violating the constitutional rights of Chinese immigrants because it was popular. Cesar Chavez didn’t organize a fight for social justice because of polls. Russell Means didn’t advocate for justice for Native Americans because it was politic. The Spingarn brothers, Arthur and Joel, didn’t fight for the rights of Black people because it was popular. LGBTQ+ activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera didn’t spark the Stonewall Riots because it was safe. Rosa Parks didn’t ignite the Montgomery Bus Boycott because it was popular. John Lewis didn’t cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday because it was safe or politic or popular. He and all of the others above were driven by righteousness of conscience not positive polls.

“Colleagues and friends, I pray that the hands of history will record that when we were confronted with President Trump’s seminal abuse of power (via incitive, invidious racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, and transphobia) we did the right thing and impeached him for it.”