It's time for Democratic lawmakers to hear from their constituents on impeachment during the August recess town halls and events.
Freshman Democratic Rep. Andy Kim came face to face with impeachment fervor at a town hall in New Jersey. “Do your job!” shouted one voter.
Several states away, a woman held up a copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and told freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin at a Michigan town hall she hoped she would “be the person that puts us over the top to start an impeachment inquiry.”
And in Virginia, newcomer Rep. Abigail Spanberger encountered voters with questions, if not resolve, about impeaching President Donald Trump.
“I don’t have blood dripping from my fangs for or against impeachment,” said David Sussan, 70, a retired postal inspector from Chesterfield, who favors starting an inquiry. “I just want the truth to come out.”
It’s these freshman lawmakers, and others like them, who will likely decide when, if ever, House Democrats start formal efforts to impeach the president.
Neither Kim, nor Slotkin, nor Spanberger supports impeachment. But with half the House Democrats now in favor of beginning an inquiry, the pressure will only mount on the holdouts to reach a tipping point. And with lawmakers returning home to voters during the August recess, what happens next may prove pivotal.
The pro-impeachment group Need to Impeach is running television ads. Along with activists from other groups, it’s also fanning out to congressional districts to push lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to move more swiftly toward impeachment proceedings.
The organization’s lead strategist, Kevin Mack, says his counsel to lawmakers, especially those new freshmen who took over formerly Republican-held seats, is to ignore the campaign consultants and party strategists, and “do what you think is right” about Trump.
“You can’t really make the argument he’s the most corrupt president in American history and not hold him accountable,” he said. “Either you think what he’s doing is OK or you hold him accountable.”
For lawmakers, though, the calculus is not so simple. Voters in many of these districts helped elect Trump in 2016, but flipped to give Democrats control of the House in last year’s election. Many of the first-term Democrats already face challengers for 2020 and are trying to balance the divergent views in their districts. While some voters want impeachment, others have different priorities.
It's not simple, but at some point you have to decide to take a stand.
And remember, the inquiry path is already underway. It's time to get on board.