The Vindication of Al Green

The Texas congressman was among the first to call for Trump’s impeachment in 2017. He may finally get his wish.

Credit: Saul Loeb/Getty Images

Somewhere in the swamp of Washington, D.C., Donald Trump is agonizing over a whistleblower’s identity, Joe Biden is fending off questions about his son, and Nancy Pelosi is readying her troops for the fight to come.

Meanwhile, Representative Al Green (D-Texas) can’t help but feel a profound sense of relief, as if the void he’d been yelling into has finally answered back. “Impeachment is something that I prognosticated a long time ago from the floor of the House of Representatives,” the congressman tells GEN. “I believe that within the next two months, it will come to fruition.”

Following the release of a partial transcript of the call between the Ukrainian and American presidents, Trump’s strategy has shifted from one of outright denial to attacks on the credibility of the whistleblower, whose urgent report helped tip the balance of House Democrats toward impeachment. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to not prevent the case from going forward to a trial in the Senate.

Green pauses for a moment, perhaps to hedge just a bit, “Let me make that within months it will come to fruition.”

“If Rosa Parks had taken a poll and listened to the poll or had been guided by a poll, she wouldn’t have taken that seat on that bus.”

It’s a stunning story — and a world away from 2017, when Green issued a lonely call for the president’s impeachment based on Trump’s racist rhetoric and discriminatory policies against immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, as well as allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. (Green’s earliest impeachment calls actually predated many of the more appalling developments in the Russia scandal.) In December 2017, Green forced a vote on articles of impeachment, only to watch as the House swiftly voted 364–58 on a “motion to table” the resolution.

How times have changed. Whereas Green’s drive for impeachment in 2017 was met with eye rolls among some Democrats — a good many of whom were terrified of how the I-word would harm their electoral prospects — now even Democrats from moderate districts in Pennsylvania and Michigan have come out in favor of an impeachment inquiry. (Green is also one of 28 House Democrats claiming that Trump’s call with Ukraine warrants impeachment now — never mind an inquiry.)

“If Rosa Parks had taken a poll and listened to the poll or had been guided by a poll, she wouldn’t have taken that seat on that bus,” Green says. “When it comes to the great challenges of your time, you’re not guided by polls. The great challenges of your time require you to be guided by righteousness.”

Even so, it’s hard to achieve anything in D.C. without consulting the polls — just ask Speaker Pelosi. To that end, Green’s passion project has benefited enormously from the post-Ukraine shift in public opinion around impeachment. The latest Monmouth University poll, released Tuesday, finds that a majority of registered voters approve of the House’s impeachment inquiry. “I’m proud that what we started on the floor of the House has grown from one to more than 200 [House members],” Green says. “And I’m proud that people are on board with it. It means that we have been vindicated.”

That vindication was hard-earned. Green has received a number of threats since his impeachment calls began, some of which are menacing and bigoted: “You ain’t going to impeach nobody, you fucking n‑‑‑‑‑,” hissed one man in a call that Green’s office recorded and shared with GEN. In another call, a man said, “We got an impeachment for you — it’s going to be yours. Going to give you a short trial before we hang your n‑‑‑‑‑ ass.”

Green has heard those calls, and he’s acutely aware of the dangers he could face by standing against what he believes is a profound injustice. “When I leave office, this will still follow me, and I won’t have the benefit of some of the protection that I have now,” Green says. “But I’ve done the right thing, and it was worth it.”

Writer and editor. Previously at Medium, Pacific Standard, Wired

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