Two New Jersey Democrats won’t impeach President Trump

Rep. Josh Gottheimer sat with President Donald Trump during a meeting with bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017, in Washington. Now he is the only New Jersey Democrat that is standing by Trump and voting with Republicans to stop a drive to consider impeachment.
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Rep. Josh Gottheimer and Rep. Albio Sires were the only members of New Jersey’s Democratic delegation in Congress to support the Republican majority in voting to stop consideration of an effort by Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) to impeach President Trump.

A prior version of this story inaccurately identified Gottheimer as the only New Jersey Democrat who stuck with Trump. We regret the error.

A privileged resolution on impeachment was brought to the floor by Congressman Al Green on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 but Republican Majority Leader McCarthy moved for it to be tabled, which passed with a 364-58 vote with four members voting present.

The vote to table the resolution split Democrats 126 to 58, with many of them — including members of leadership — calling Green’s move premature.

Voting against the motion to table Green’s resolution were Reps. Donald Norcross, Frank Pallone, Bill Pascrell and Bonnie Watson Coleman. Rep. Donald Payne Jr. did not vote.

Almost seven months ago, Sires said that Trump may have committed an “impeachable offense” by asking the FBI to drop its investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, but when he had a chance to take action the former state Assembly Speaker balked.

Albio Sires, shown here standing behind Sen. Robert Menendez and Gov. Chris Christie, stood with Republicans by voting against the start of impeachment proceedings against Trump.

“If proven to be true, reports that President Trump tried to influence an independent investigation by asking former FBI Director James Comey to shut it down, rises to the level of obstruction of justice, which could be an impeachable offense,” Sires said in his May statement.

Other remarks from the Hudson County congressman about Trump have been strongly worded.

“The President’s cruel and reprehensible decision to end DACA with a six month delay is inhumane and devastating for families and communities across the country” said Sires, after the administration announced it would end protection for immigrants who arrived as chuildren and spent their entire lives in the US. “In doing so, the President is also hurting our economy and our national security while diverting critical law enforcement efforts that should be focused on those who pose a true danger to public safety.”

Despite those words, Sires voted with Republicans to stop the drive to impeach Trump.

When Sires ran as a Republican for Congress in 1986, Grover Norquist, the founder of Americans for Tax Reform who engineered much of the GOP’s massive “Tax Scam” now making its way into law, visited Hudson County to campaign with him.

Green’s articles of impeachment do not allege Trump has specifically committed a crime. Instead, Green argues that Trump has “brought disrepute, contempt, ridicule and disgrace on the presidency” and “sown discord among the people of the United States.”

There was a brief debate about impeaching the president in October, before a previous resolution introduced by Green was withdrawn.

In late October, progressive activist hedge-fund manager Tom Steyer funded an impeachment campaign that quickly garnered 1.3 million signatures. By today, the campaign had garnered 3,369,640 signatures.

“Donald Trump has brought us to the brink of nuclear war, obstructed justice, and taken money from foreign governments,” said Steyer. “We need to impeach this dangerous president.”

“Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, a co-author of the Federalist Papers — and an immigrant himself — argued that ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ could be defined as ‘abuse or violation of some public trust.’ This president has clearly already exceeded these standards. Congress has impeached past presidents for far less,” said Steyer.

Many lawsuits filed against Trump ask for a declaration that would make the work of House managers easier in an impeachment.

Blumenthal v. Trump asks for declaratory relief as to whether the president has accepted emoluments.

In CREW and National Security Archive v. Trump and EOP, a declaratory finding that the administration willfully failed to retain records would support a charge of obstruction of justice.

Across the nation, from Cambridge, Massachusetts to Los Angeles, California, city councils have approved formal resolutions calling for Trump’s impeachment as President.

Since May, the more Americans supported impeaching Trump (48%) than opposed impeaching Trump (41%), with 11% not sure.

Gottheimer met with Trump at the White House Sept. 13, as part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers to discuss tax reform, infrastructure, immigration and other elements of the Republican legislative agenda.

“The biggest takeaway, which I think was quite important, was that bipartisanship is a much better approach to these challenges than doing it in a partisan way, as with health care,” said Gottheimer, who is co-chairman of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.

Gottheimer, a first-term congressman from Wyckoff, cast 37 percent of his votes in support of Trump’s position on issues.

Gottheimer ranks 10th among all representatives in voting against his party. Out of 547 votes in the 115th Congress, Gottheimer and another New Jersey Democrat, Bonnie Watson Coleman, have disagreed on 105 votes, including 33 major votes.

Gottheimer and Coleman have agreed on 83 percent of votes in the 115th Congress.

He defeated incumbent Scott Garrett after seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, largely based on his crusade against equality and refusal to support the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) because it “actively recruited gay candidates and supported homosexuals in primaries.”

Gottheimer said he “raised the importance” of the deduction for state and local property taxes with Trump after the administration proposed eliminating it.

The deduction provides crucial relief to homeowners in New Jersey, which has the highest property taxes in the country.

“We need to find solutions that will actually bring taxes down,” Gottheimer said he told the president. “He said, ‘Yeah, it’s a tough issue.’ I made the case. We will see where it goes when it gets into specifics.”

Without mentioning the the impeachment vote, Gottheimer released a statement praising Trump’s decision to recognize that Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and he dismissed concern that it would negate any hope for a peace agreement among the Jewish State, the Palestinian Authority and its Muslim neighbors.

Trump picked Garrett to run the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which as a Republican congressman he sought to shut down in 2015.

Garrett told the Senate Banking Committee he was committed to keep the bank fully open and fully operational during confirmation hearings.

National polls find a record level of support for impeaching Trump, with 49% of voters supporting the idea, to 41% who are opposed to doing so.

This marks the 6th month in a row we’ve found a plurality of voters in favor of impeaching Trump, and it’s the closest we’ve found to a majority. Trump’s approval rating has declined by a net 7 points in the last month. In September we found him at a -11 spread with 42% of voters approving of him to 53% who disapproved. Now he’s at -18 with 38% of voters approving of him to 56% who disapprove.

“Basically everything we poll on a monthly basis is at a record low point for Trump right now,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “His approval rating, the number of voters who want to impeach him, his position against Democrats for 2020, and his hold over the Republican Party have never been weaker than we found in this month’s national survey.”

Trump claimed last week that he had accomplished more in 9 months than any President in American History, but only 25% of voters believe that claim to 66% who do not, although it’s a notable measure of the ‘Trump cult’ that 55% of those who voted for him do believe he’s the most accomplished to 32% who disagree.

Voters actually put his first 9 months in a very different historical context- 49% already say they think he’s the worst President in American History, to 43% who dispute that notion.

By a 54/40 margin voters wish Barack Obama was still President instead of Trump, and by a 48/42 spread they wish Hillary Clinton was in the White House rather than Trump.

Trump fares poorly on a number of metrics tested in the poll.

Only 37% of voters think he’s honest, to 56% who say he’s not. In fact a 52% majority come right out and say they think Trump is a liar, to 41% who disagree with that characterization.

There are continued transparency concerns, with 60% of voters thinking he needs to release his tax returns to just 32% who don’t think it’s necessary for him to.

And only 31% of voters think Trump has delivered on the core promise of his campaign to ‘Make America Great Again,’ to 60% who say he’s failed on that front.




UPDATE: A previous version of this story said Gottheimer was the only New Jersey Democrat sticking with Trump. We regret the error.

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