House Democrats inch toward majority support for impeachment

Just days into the long summer recess, a number of House Democrats have endorsed the drive to impeach President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report MORE, inching the number of supporters closer to a majority of the House Democratic Caucus in what could pose new challengers for Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGiuliani pens op-ed slamming 'unprecedented' impeachment inquiry Brindisi, Lamb recommended for Armed Services, Transportation Committees Overnight Health Care: Top health official defends contract payments to Trump allies | Vaping advocates confident Trump will turn from flavor ban | Sanders gets endorsement from nurses union MORE (D-Calif.) and her bid to defuse the effort.

Supporters of the impeachment strategy had predicted support would only grow as lawmakers traveled home for the six-week break to gauge the temperature of voters. And they haven’t been disappointed.

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On Monday, Reps. Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.) and Dina TitusAlice (Dina) Costandina TitusOvernight Defense: Protests at Trump's NYC Veterans Day speech | House Dems release Pentagon official's deposition transcript | Lawmakers ask Trump to rescind Erdogan invite Bipartisan House members call on Trump to rescind Erdoğan invitation The PREPARED Act will protect vulnerable animals when disaster strikes MORE (Nev.) endorsed the push, joining at least a dozen other Democrats who have signed on since last Wednesday, when former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' MORE testified before Congress on his investigation into Russia's election interference and whether Trump obstructed the probe. 

That list includes a pair of freshmen — Reps. Mike Levin (Calif.) and Kim SchrierKimberly (Kim) Merle SchrierSwing-seat Democrats oppose impeachment, handing Pelosi leverage Second Democrat representing Trump district backs impeachment House Democrats inch toward majority support for impeachment MORE (Wash.) — who flipped Republican-held seats in last year’s midterms; Rep. Derek KilmerDerek Christian KilmerProgressive freshmen jump into leadership PAC fundraising Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to testify on Libra | Extremists find home on Telegram app | Warren blasts Facebook for not removing anti-Biden ad | California outlaws facial recognition in police body cameras | China rips US tech sanctions House Democrats introduce new legislation to combat foreign election interference MORE (Wash.), who heads the centrist group of New Democrats; and a member of leadership, Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea Clark'Squad' members recruit Raskin to run for Oversight gavel House passes third bill aimed at preventing foreign election interference Massachusetts Democrats call for 100 percent fentanyl screening of international mail from 'high-risk' nations MORE (Mass.), the vice chairwoman of the caucus. 

Other lawmakers signing on in recent days are Democratic Reps. Lori TrahanLori A. TrahanEthics panel reviewing freshman Democrat over campaign finance complaint House Democrats inch toward majority support for impeachment Trump bashes Mueller for 'ineptitude,' slams 'sick' Democrats backing impeachment MORE (Mass.), John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiThis week: Congress returns to chaotic Washington Trump labels Tlaib 'a despicable human being' Tlaib says Democrats have discussed detaining White House officials who don't testify MORE (Calif.), Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazioDemocratic chairman presses Transportation secretary over transparency in Boeing 737 Max probe Democratic lawmaker asks for probe of reports Chao favored Kentucky officials Hillicon Valley: Warren takes on Facebook over political ads | Zuckerberg defends meetings with conservatives | Civil liberties groups sound alarm over online extremism bill MORE (Ore.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (R.I.), Ann KusterAnn McLane KusterCast and crew of 'Unbelievable' join lawmakers to advocate for reducing DNA, rape kit backlog House Democrats inch toward majority support for impeachment Katherine Clark quietly eyes leadership ascent MORE (N.H.), Chris PappasChristopher (Chris) Charles PappasPelosi-backed group funding ads for vulnerable Democrats amid impeachment inquiry Lawmakers beat reporters in annual spelling bee competition The Hill's Morning Report - US coastline readies for Hurricane Dorian to make landfall MORE (N.H.), Suzan DelBene (Wash.) and Denny Heck (Wash.).

The additions have pushed the number of Democrats seeking impeachment to 106, according to a tally being kept by The Hill. Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashTrump allies assail impeachment on process while House Democrats promise open hearings soon Hoyer: We are going to move as fast 'as the facts and truth dictate' on open hearings Conway spars with Wallace on whether White House will cooperate with impeachment inquiry after formal vote MORE (I-Mich.), who left the Republican Party earlier this month, is also backing the effort. 

That means pro-impeachment Democrats are just a dozen votes shy of 118 — a “majority of the majority,” or more than half of the 235 Democrats in the lower chamber. 

It’s likely impeachment backers will reach that symbolic mark in the coming days or weeks. Heck, for instance, said there are “at least” 20 to 30 on-the-fence Democrats seriously considering their endorsement heading into the long break. 

Before leaving for the six-week summer recess, Pelosi told reporters that she had “no complaint” about Democrats who are pushing for an impeachment inquiry and criticizing her for resisting one. In a shift of tone, she told rank-and-file members in a closed-door meeting that’s it’s up to them to decide how best to represent their districts and constituents.

But Pelosi, who’s wary of protecting moderate Democrats heading into 2020, reiterated that she was in no rush to launch an impeachment investigation — “We will proceed when we have what we need to proceed” — and 118 pro-impeachment votes aren’t likely to move the entrenched Speaker off her position.

Even some supporters of an impeachment inquiry cautioned against reading too much into the 118-vote milestone; 218, the number of votes needed to formally launch the inquiry, is the only number that matters, they said. 

“There’s not much difference between 100 and 118. I don’t think half the caucus represents a magic number,” said Rep. Cedric RichmondCedric Levon RichmondTwo former Congressional Black Caucus chairmen back Biden Election security funds caught in crosshairs of spending debate Lawmakers weigh responses to rash of ransomware attacks MORE (D-La.), a House Judiciary Committee member who backs an impeachment inquiry, told The Hill on Monday.

Asked what number is significant, Richmond, a co-chairman of the Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report Giuliani pens op-ed slamming 'unprecedented' impeachment inquiry MORE campaign, replied, “Two hundred eighteen. That’s the majority of the House. That’s the number it takes to pass the bill and to get articles of impeachment out of the House and to the Senate. 

“We still have steps to go,” he said.

For individual members, the reasons behind their support for impeachment are as diverse as the caucus itself. Many have been moved by the testimony of Mueller, who told a pair of committees last week that members of Trump’s campaign team were eager to accept help from Russian operatives during the 2016 campaign and that Trump had lied about that support and attempted to curtail the investigation in ways that may have been criminal. 

“When looking at the evidence presented, there is obviously enough smoke to investigate the potential fire of corruption,” Cleaver said Monday. 

Others are furious with Trump’s attacks on minorities, including his recent tweets targeting Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBrindisi, Lamb recommended for Armed Services, Transportation Committees Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Elijah Cummings's widow, will run for his House seat Former NAACP president to run for Cummings's House seat MORE (D-Md.), a prominent member of the Congressional Black Caucus and head of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Rep. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenImpeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Boeing CEO gives up bonus over 737 Max crashes Democrat says he voted to recognize Armenian genocide because 'Turkey doesn't seem to respect' US MORE (D-Tenn.) has said he’s keeping close tabs on such racially charged incidents and intends to introduce articles of impeachment compiling them later in the year. 

Democrats have also been up in arms over Trump’s stonewalling of their investigations, and even those resisting impeachment in the near term are warning that their patience is wearing thin.

“There will be a deadline because we will either get the answers that we need or the president's obstruction will be so complete that that itself is a grounds for his impeachment,” Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGiuliani pens op-ed slamming 'unprecedented' impeachment inquiry Jim Jordan: Latest allegation of ignoring sexual misconduct is 'ridiculous' Democrats face make-or-break moment on impeachment MORE (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

Rep. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerHouse to vote on bill to ensure citizenship for children of overseas service members As impeachment goes public, forget 'conventional wisdom' What this 'impeachment' is really about — and it's not the Constitution MORE (D-N.Y.) is going a long step further. On Friday, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee announced an effort to secure grand jury information underlying Mueller’s investigation by specifically referencing impeachment as the basis for the court request.

Nadler has reportedly been at odds with Pelosi over whether to launch an impeachment inquiry in his committee. His latest strategy keeps impeachment near at hand without launching the formal process — or forcing uncomfortable votes on vulnerable colleagues before there’s more public support for ousting the president. 

“My personal view is that he richly deserves impeachment. He has done many impeachable offenses. He's violated the law six ways from Sundays,” Nadler said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program Sunday.

“But that's not the question,” he added. “The question is, can we develop enough evidence to put before the American people?”