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Calif. Democrat Launches Longshot Bid to Impeach Trump

Rep. Brad Sherman has said he has "no illusions" about his bid to remove President Trump from office

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    Calif. Democrat Launches Longshot Bid to Impeach Trump
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    Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) (right) and fellow Democratic members of Congress hold a news conference to voice their opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal at the U.S. Capitol June 10, 2015 in Washington, DC.

    California Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman has filed an article of impeachment against President Donald Trump in a longshot bid to remove the president from office.

    Sherman, who represents communities in the San Fernando Valley, filed the article Wednesday. In it, he accuses Trump of obstructing investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, in part by firing former FBI Director James Comey.

    Sherman acknowledges that filing the article is "the first step on a very long road." It is unlikely to move forward in a House and Senate controlled by Republicans, and Democratic leaders have distanced themselves from the effort, believing that it energizes Trump's base.

    He has one co-sponsor, fellow Democrat Al Green of Texas. 

    "I have no illusions," he said in a statement last month to the Los Angeles Times. "Articles of Impeachment will not pass the House in the near future. But given the risk posed to the Republic, we should move things forward as quickly as possible."

    Sherman issued a draft article in June.

    "As the investigations move forward, additional evidence supporting additional Articles of Impeachment may emerge," Sherman said in a statement. "However, as to Obstruction of Justice... the evidence we have is sufficient to move forward now. And the national interest requires that we do so.

    "Introducing Articles of Impeachment will have two possible outcomes. First, I have slight hope it will inspire an 'intervention' in the White House. If Impeachment is real, if they actually see Articles, perhaps we will see incompetency replaced by care. Perhaps uncontrollable impulses will be controlled. And perhaps the danger our nation faces will be ameliorated.

    "Second, and more likely, filing Articles of Impeachment is the first step on a very long road. But if the impulsive incompetency continues, then eventually -- many, many months from now -- Republicans will join the impeachment effort."

    Sherman filed the article a day after the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., acknowledged that he met with a Russian lawyer during the campaign. The lawyer promised damaging information from the Russian government about Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    The President has expressed his support for his son, saying that the emails were released to "be totally transparent." 

    Trump has repeatedly described the ongoing investigation by the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller into questions about Russia's involvement in the 2016 election as a "hoax" and a "witch hunt." In a tweet Wednesday morning, he against referred to the investigation as "the greatest Witch Hunt in political history."

    The Constitution allows Congress to remove officials from high office, including the president. The process starts with the filing of an article or articles of impeachment, which may then be voted on by the House of Representatives.

    If one or more articles receives a majority vote, the official is impeached. The impeachment is then tried in the Senate in a proceeding overseen by the chief justice of the Supreme Court. 

    Only two presidents have been impeached in U.S. history. Bill Clinton was impeached by the House in 1998 on charges of lying under oath to a federal grand jury and obstruction of justice. In 1868, Andrew Johnson was impeached on charges of violating the tenure of office act. Both were later acquitted by the Senate and stayed in office.

    In July 1974, lawmakers were preparing for a possible impeachment trial involving President Richard Nixon in the wake of the Watergate scandal after members of the House Judiciary Committee voted to submit three articles of impeachment to the House. The House never voted on those articles -- Nixon announced his resignation in August 1974 and no further action was taken.