Democratic lawmaker tries to force U.S. House vote on impeachment

WASHINGTON, July 17 (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday was again trying to referee an intra-party struggle among her Democratic colleagues over whether to take steps toward impeaching Republican President Donald .

As he has done twice in the past, Democratic Representative Al Green of Texas was seeking to force a vote on the House floor later in the day on articles of impeachment. It was not immediately clear if Green would succeed.

Leadership aides said a vote may be held on whether to refer Green's motion to committee for further study or to "table" it, killing it for now. In either case, lawmakers would have to go on record with votes on the impeachment question.

Pelosi has long tried to restrain Democrats from initiating the impeachment process against , pending a House Judiciary Committee probe into whether he colluded with Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election and obstructed Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of the matter.

Asked by reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning if she supported Green's resolution, Pelosi said, "No I don’t ... Does it come as a surprise?”

James Clyburn, the House's No. 3 Democrat and a chief lieutenant to Pelosi, said he would prefer to table the resolution. "I don't think we're ready to debate that at this point,” he said.

He added that part of the reason was that Congress is scheduled to hear from Mueller in testimony next week.

Green filed the resolution on Tuesday as a "privileged" matter, which means the chamber must act on it within 48 hours. He has filed the resolution twice in the past. Both times it was tabled by a Republican-run chamber.

This is the first time he has brought it with Democrats in majority control of the House.

"This will be an opportunity for us to all go on the record: either we will move forward with impeachment or we will vote against it," Green told CNN.

Green made his move, putting Democratic leaders on the spot, a day after the House voted to condemn for making comments against four minority Democratic congresswomen that were widely criticized as racist.

Green said his effort had nothing to do with Mueller's investigation.

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"This president has committed impeachable offenses. Yesterday we condemned him for them. Today is our opportunity to punish him for them," he said on the House floor. (Reporting by Susan Cornwell, Richard Cowan, Doina Chiacu and David Morgan Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Tom Brown)

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