The number of local governments pushing Congress to launch an impeachment motion against President Donald Trump hit the 10th mark with Brookline, MA being the latest town to pass a resolution calling for the president’s impeachment.
On Thursday, Brookline passed a resolution calling for Trump’s impeachment, a step designed to add pressure on the State’s congressmen to launch a formal bid that could eventually lead to the President’s removal from office.
The Massachusetts towns of Cambridge, Amherst, Pelham and Leverett have already made the call, and Newton has a proposal up for consideration reports suggest.
California has also been on the frontline in the impeachment bid. The Los Angeles city council made a call to request for the impeachment proceedings to begin in the beginning of May. Richmond, Alameda, and Berkeley were not left behind.
In Chicago, the City Council came up with a decree that was supported by 31 sponsors. Alderman Ameya Pawar, who introduced the resolution, cited Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey as the main reason for launching the bid.
“Donald Trump is a racist, a bigot, and a misogynist, and he is attempting to enact policies around his beliefs. But that’s not why I introduced the resolution calling on Congress to begin impeachment proceedings,” Pawar said. “I introduced this resolution because President Trump continues to obstruct the investigation into Russian influence over his administration, in his business dealings, and the alleged collusion during the 2016 election. It is time for a full and thorough investigation led by the United States Congress.”
The goal behind the local government movement, which has no authority in the impeachment process, is to convince Congress to launch an investigation to determine if impeachment charges are justified. If Congress concludes they are, the articles of impeachment are drafted and voted on by the House. A simple majority vote in the House sends the articles to the Senate, which holds a trial and needs two-thirds agreement to convict.
In Washington, it’s alleged that the local government impeachment movement is political. Pawar is running for governor and his opponents in the Democratic primary including Chris Kennedy and state Sen. Daniel Biss called for the same. Billionaire J.B. Pritzker, who cited a story about an Israeli intelligence leak to Russian officials, has also supported the motion.
“I feel a grave sense of urgency to get to the bottom of this threat to our democratic process and national security,” Pritzker said.
The blue state cities and small towns driving the resolutions also tend to be left-leaning places that voted against Trump in the first place.
The initial organizing force was a group known as Free Speech for the People, a small but noisy liberal group in Amherst, Mass. that asserts Trump violated the Foreign Emoluments Clause in the Constitution because he failed to divest from his private business interests before he was sworn into office.
Allegedly the group has accumulated hundreds of thousands of signatures for the impeachment without beginning a formal campaign, according to John Bonifaz who is a constitutional lawyer heading the Free Speech for People. The signatures soared to more than 1 million after the Texas Democratic Congressman Al Green’s called for impeachment proceedings from the House floor.
“We’re calling on members of Congress to support and introduce the impeachment process in House of Representatives,” said Bonifaz, whose group is behind impeachdonaldtrumpnow.org, which gives local communities a how-to guide on passing a resolution backing impeachment.
Bonifaz went ahead to explain that asking the House to investigate is not an alternative of the special counsel investigation, which would explore whether there were violations of criminal statute. It’s intended to run on a parallel track.
“The only way a president can be held accountable for abusing the public trust is via the impeachment process,” Bonifaz said. “It is at this point unclear on the law whether a sitting president can be indicted.”
The House of Representatives has impeached two U.S. presidents in the past including Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton but were acquitted by the Senate.
It is not the first time the local governments have pushed the Congress to file an impeachment motion. In 2006, a group of towns in Vermont, and later the state’s Senate, passed resolutions calling for George W. Bush’s impeachment with allegations that he misled the country before going to war in Iraq.
Trump supporters have termed the wave of the impeachment proceedings just five months into the president’s tenure is purely political.
Sen. Sam McCann, a Republican who backed Trump and is considering a 2018 run for Illinois governor termed the calls for impeachment as hyper-partisan “I believe that calling for impeachment this early is a form of hyper-partisanship,” he said “If we find out that he is guilty of a crime that is worthy of removing him from office, I’ll be one of the first to call for it. But in this country, we’re innocent until proven guilty … let’s give it a chance to play out.”
So far, most Democratic leaders in Washington have demonstrated similar caution, pointing to the special counsel investigation as enough right now.
Despite the number of calls for impeachment coming from Massachusetts communities, U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy avoided discussing it when asked about the issue on Friday.
“Congressman Kennedy is grateful for the input of his constituents,” an office spokeswoman said. “He continues to push Republican leadership in Congress to pursue an aggressive, independent investigation into President Trump’s business ties, Russian connections, and any other alleged violations of US law.”
Pawar reportedly vowed to advocate that the city council of Chicago to look into the issue of impeachment despite being watered down and stuck in the Rules Committee where Alderman Ed Burke is the vice chair. Trump and investors had hired Burke’s law firm in an effort to lower property taxes owed at Trump Hotel and Tower in Chicago hence Pawar reportedly believes this is the reason the impeachment call has not gone past the rules committee.
“If decisions are getting made that this isn’t politically the right way to go, then we’re putting party over country here,” Bonifaz said. “Frankly, history will judge us in this moment on how we act … I would hope that the Chicago City Council takes up this again and votes on what is at stake — that no one is above the law — even the president of the United States.”