The pace at which House Democrats have come out in public favor of opening impeachment inquiries into Donald Trump has quickened since Mueller's testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees last month, and today the number of House Democrats in favor of beginning the road to impeachment eclipsed a majority of Nancy Pelosi's caucus.
The impeachment dam has broken.
More than half of House Democrats say they would vote to launch impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, a crucial threshold that backers said will require Speaker Nancy Pelosi to reconsider her steadfast opposition.
Though Pelosi has given no indication that even a significant majority of House Democrats embracing impeachment proceedings would shift her view, supporters of an inquiry argue that crossing the halfway mark among the caucus is a symbolic boost that could shift the political dynamic.
“The president’s repeated abuses have brought American democracy to a perilous crossroads," said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who announced his support on Tuesday. "Following the guidance of the Constitution — which I have sworn to uphold — is the only way to achieve justice."
The number of House Democrats who support impeachment proceedings passed the halfway mark — 118 out of 235 voting members now support the effort — on Thursday when Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida announced his support. Deutch was also the 23rd Democratic lawmaker to support impeachment proceedings in the days after former special counsel Robert Mueller testified to Congress, affirming publicly his damning evidence suggesting Trump attempted to obstruct justice.
Mueller's appearance reignited a push for impeachment proceedings among Democrats, who had been slowly gathering momentum for the effort since April. Though his testimony was at times halting, Mueller confirmed to lawmaker his report’s findings that Trump’s 2016 campaign welcomed Russian assistance and that Trump repeatedly attempted to undermine the investigation into Russia’s hacking and propaganda operation.
Perhaps more significant than the number of Democrats backing an inquiry are the identities of the members themselves. The latest additions include Reps. Mike Levin of California, Jennifer Wexton of Virginia and Jason Crow of Colorado, three freshmen who flipped Republican-held districts in November. Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, a member of Pelosi's leadership team, added her name to the list on Friday.
Engel, a veteran lawmaker from New York City, is also one of six committee chiefs tasked by Pelosi with investigating Trump's conduct. He's the second of those committee leaders, along with Rep. Maxine Waters of California, to publicly demand an impeachment inquiry. Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler has privately advocated for one as well.
So again, it's not just safe blue seats with 30-point margins calling for moving ahead with impeachment, it's swing-district Dems and committee chairs joining in. And more Dems are joining all the time now.
And in his op-ed at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel today, Rep.Ted Deutch argued that impeachment process is already underway.
In the past, a resolution directing the Judiciary Committee to consider impeachment was needed to grant the committee additional subpoena authority and financial resources. That was the official start of an impeachment inquiry.
But times have changed. In 2015, Republican leaders gave committee chairs broad subpoena powers — powers that Chairman Nadler retains today.
No additional step is required. No magic words need to be uttered on the House floor. No vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry is necessary.
The Judiciary Committee officially started its investigation into the abuse of power by President Trump on March 4, 2019. The stated purpose was to consider all constitutional remedies for presidential misconduct, including impeachment. In every meaningful way, our investigation is an impeachment inquiry. The Judiciary Committee already has the power to refer articles of impeachment to the whole House.
The Trump Administration has taken unprecedented and unconstitutional actions to ignore congressional subpoenas and pressure witnesses not to appear. President Trump has turned the White House into a black box. The Justice Department fabricated a theory of blanket immunity and distorted claims of executive privilege. The Administration wants to silence the witnesses to the President’s obstruction.
But the American people deserve to hear from former White House Counsel Don McGahn, under oath, about when the President ordered him to fire Mueller. And from Corey Lewandowski about when he was asked to narrow the scope of the investigation to protect the President. And from former Attorney General Jeff Sessions about President Trump’s pressure campaign to take back control of the investigation.
If the suggestion that we are already in the midst of an impeachment inquiry sounds farfetched, look to last week’s court filings by the House counsel. To break the administration’s stonewalling, the House lawyers explained that the Constitution gives the House “a constitutional power of the utmost gravity—recommendation of articles of impeachment.” Since Department of Justice policies won’t allow the prosecution of a sitting President, only the House of Representatives can ensure that the President is not above the law.
As we told the court, we already have the power. We don’t need a vote. We need President Trump to stop obstructing.
For better or worse, the impeachment train is leaving the station, and picking up steam.