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 TrumpSix big off-year elections you might be missing Twitter suspends GOP Rep. Banks for misgendering trans health official Meghan McCain to Trump: 'Thanks for the publicity' 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 PelosiDems look to keep tax on billionaires in spending bill Sunday shows - Democrats' spending plan in the spotlight Pelosi won't say if she'll run for reelection in 2022 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 TitusDemocrats call for State to lift ban on embassies discussing same-sex marriage Harris to highlight drought, climate change in Nevada trip Nevada congressional candidate says she was 'drafted' to run 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) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel 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 SchrierNew school year, new urgency to fight COVID-19 Katie Hill launches effort to protect Democratic majority in House Overnight Health Care: Fauci clashes with Paul - again | New York reaches .1B settlement with opioid distributors | Delta variant accounts for 83 percent of US COVID-19 cases MORE (Wash.) — who flipped Republican-held seats in last year’s midterms; Rep. Derek KilmerDerek Christian KilmerProgressives cheer, moderates groan as Biden visit caps chaotic week  Democratic factions dig in, threatening fate of infrastructure vote Lawmakers using leadership PACs as 'slush funds' to live lavish lifestyles: report MORE (Wash.), who heads the centrist group of New Democrats; and a member of leadership, Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkBiden employs flurry of meetings to unite warring factions Pelosi, moderates inch closer to infrastructure, budget deal House Democrats return to advance Biden's agenda in face of crises MORE (Mass.), the vice chairwoman of the caucus. 

Other lawmakers signing on in recent days are Democratic Reps. Lori TrahanLori A. TrahanFour big takeaways from a tough hearing for Facebook Senators gear up for bipartisan grilling of Facebook execs Hillicon Valley — Presented by Ericsson — Instagram 'pausing' kid-targeted plan MORE (Mass.), John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiWhy is Biden doubling down on Trump's nuclear expansion? Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon officials get grilling from House Defense secretary blames State Department for delay in Afghanistan evacuation MORE (Calif.), Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazio'Design-build' contracts key to infrastructure success EPA closer to unveiling plan for tackling 'forever chemicals' Congress sends 30-day highway funding patch to Biden after infrastructure stalls MORE (Ore.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (R.I.), Ann KusterAnn McLane KusterTech industry pushes for delay in antitrust legislation Man charged in Capitol riot says he's running for Congress The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Inauguration Day MORE (N.H.), Chris PappasChristopher (Chris) Charles PappasDemocratic retirements could make a tough midterm year even worse Club for Growth squeezes front-line Democrats on reconciliation plan Gail Huff Brown, wife of Scott Brown, jumps into congressional race in New Hampshire 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 AmashDemocrats defend Afghan withdrawal amid Taliban advance Vietnam shadow hangs over Biden decision on Afghanistan Kamala Harris and our shameless politics 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 RichmondBiden to meet with business leaders amid debt ceiling pressure campaign on GOP Bottom line The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Democrats to scale back agenda 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 BidenRand Paul calls for Fauci's firing over 'lack of judgment' Dems look to keep tax on billionaires in spending bill Six big off-year elections you might be missing 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 CummingsFormer GOP congressional candidate Kimberly Klacik suing Candace Owens for defamation Former Cummings staffer unveils congressional bid McCarthy, GOP face a delicate dance on Jan. 6 committee 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 CohenDemocratic retirements could make a tough midterm year even worse Pandora Papers prompt lawmakers to push for crackdown on financial 'enablers' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats still at odds over Biden agenda 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 SchiffAll eyes on Garland after Bannon contempt vote House votes to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Manchin heatedly dismisses rumors of leaving Democratic Party MORE (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

Rep. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerAll eyes on Garland after Bannon contempt vote Photos of the Week: Manchin protestor, Paris Hilton and a mirror room Fight breaks out between Jordan, Nadler over rules about showing video at Garland hearing 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?”