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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 TrumpFederal watchdog accuses VOA parent company of wrongdoing under Trump appointee Lawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list Ivanka Trump gives deposition in lawsuit alleging misuse of inauguration funds 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 PelosiOn The Money: Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms | Pelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks | Poll: Most Americans support raising taxes on those making at least 0K Battle heats up for House Foreign Affairs gavel Nearly one-third of US adults expect to lose employment income: Census Bureau 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 TitusCoordinated federal leadership is needed for recovery of US travel and tourism Shakespeare Theatre Company goes virtual for 'Will on the Hill...or Won't They?' Safe, responsible casino gaming supports state economies at crucial time 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) MuellerBarr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting 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 SchrierRep. Kim Schrier defends Washington House seat from GOP challenger House approves .2T COVID-19 relief bill as White House talks stall Pelosi: House will stay in session until agreement is reached on coronavirus relief MORE (Wash.) — who flipped Republican-held seats in last year’s midterms; Rep. Derek KilmerDerek Christian KilmerCongress must reclaim its Article I powers in order to earn back public trust Hillicon Valley: House panel says Intelligence Community not equipped to address Chinese threats | House approves bill to send cyber resources to state, local governments House approves legislation to send cybersecurity resources to state, local governments MORE (Wash.), who heads the centrist group of New Democrats; and a member of leadership, Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkFive House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet House Democrats pick Aguilar as No. 6 leader in next Congress Nominated for another Speaker term, Pelosi says it's her last MORE (Mass.), the vice chairwoman of the caucus. 

Other lawmakers signing on in recent days are Democratic Reps. Lori TrahanLori A. TrahanEthics panel finds Massachusetts Democrat didn't violate rules Democrats on House Armed Services panel 'dismayed and gravely concerned' with Esper The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Pfizer's Mikael Dolsten says vaccine development timeline being cut in half; House poised to pass 4 billion relief package MORE (Mass.), John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiWuhan is the final straw: The world needs to divest from China GOP seizes on 'defund the police' to galvanize base Peace Corps faces uncertain future with no volunteers in field MORE (Calif.), Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazioDemocrats ask GAO to study COVID-19 air travel risks Democrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? On the Trail: Five House results illustrate a politically divided America MORE (Ore.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (R.I.), Ann KusterAnn McLane KusterDemocrats to determine leaders after disappointing election Pelosi seeks to put pressure on GOP in COVID-19 relief battle Clark rolls out endorsements in assistant Speaker race MORE (N.H.), Chris PappasChristopher (Chris) Charles PappasPappas fends off challenge from ex-Trump official in NH Centrist Democrats got their COVID bill, now they want a vote Trump-backed candidate wins NH GOP primary to take on Pappas 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 AmashIncoming GOP lawmaker shares video of hotel room workout, citing 'Democrat tyrannical control' Rundown of the House seats Democrats, GOP flipped on Election Day Romney congratulates Biden after victory 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 RichmondRep. Mark Walker announces Senate bid in North Carolina Biden takes steps toward creating diverse Cabinet Clyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts 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 BidenLawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list GOP lawmaker blasts incoming freshman over allegations of presidential voter fraud Haaland has competition to be first Native American to lead Interior  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 CummingsWe must act on lowering cost of prescription drugs Voters elected a record number of Black women to Congress this year — none were Republican Democrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? 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 CohenDe Blasio mum on whether he'll block sale of Mets to controversial investor Two ethics groups call on House to begin impeachment inquiry against Barr Jewish lawmakers targeted by anti-Semitic tweets ahead of election: ADL 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 SchiffBarr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Trump pardons Flynn | Lawmakers lash out at decision | Pentagon nixes Thanksgiving dining hall meals due to COVID-19 Democratic impeachment leaders blast Trump's pardon of Flynn MORE (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

Rep. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerThis week: Congress races to wrap work for the year Top Republicans praise Trump's Flynn pardon Democratic impeachment leaders blast Trump's pardon of Flynn 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?”