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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 TrumpTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Romney on NRSC awarding Trump: Not 'my preference' McConnell sidesteps Trump calling him 'dumb son of a b----' 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 PelosiAgainst mounting odds, Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan Charles Booker launches exploratory committee to consider challenge to Rand Paul Top academics slam Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act 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 TitusHouse Democrats introduce bill to address diversity at State Department Coordinated 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?' 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) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump 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 SchrierThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - At 50 days in charge, Democrats hail American Rescue Plan as major win Democrats spar over COVID-19 vaccine strategy Democrats point fingers on whether Capitol rioters had inside help MORE (Wash.) — who flipped Republican-held seats in last year’s midterms; Rep. Derek KilmerDerek Christian KilmerModerate Democrats press for auto-stabilizers in COVID-19 aid package House Democrat says federal workforce recovering from 'a lot of harm' under Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Biden: Focus on vaccine, virus, travel MORE (Wash.), who heads the centrist group of New Democrats; and a member of leadership, Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkPelosi says House will move immediately on COVID-19 relief Biden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear Sanders defends push to impeach Trump: Insurrection won't be tolerated MORE (Mass.), the vice chairwoman of the caucus. 

Other lawmakers signing on in recent days are Democratic Reps. Lori TrahanLori A. TrahanHillicon Valley: Supreme Court sides with Google in copyright fight against Oracle | Justices dismiss suit over Trump's blocking of critics on Twitter | Tim Cook hopes Parler will return to Apple Store Democrats press Facebook on plans for Instagram for kids Lawmakers vent frustration in first hearing with tech CEOs since Capitol riot MORE (Mass.), John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiBiden to meet with bipartisan lawmakers on infrastructure Colorado presses Biden to reverse Trump Space Command move Report on military aviation crashes faults lack of training, 'chronic fatigue' MORE (Calif.), Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazioPelosi wants Biden infrastructure bill done by August The Hill's Morning Report - Biden: Let's make a deal on infrastructure, taxes Senate Democrats reintroduce bill to create financial transaction tax MORE (Ore.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (R.I.), Ann KusterAnn McLane KusterThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Inauguration Day Democrats to determine leaders after disappointing election Pelosi seeks to put pressure on GOP in COVID-19 relief battle 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 AmashBiden: 'Prince Philip gladly dedicated himself to the people of the UK' Battle rages over vaccine passports Republicans eye primaries in impeachment 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 RichmondBiden to announce executive action on ghost guns, red flag laws Biden expected to announce executive action on guns Biden adviser clashes with Peacock host: 'Clearly you have health insurance' 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 BidenTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Biden, first lady send 'warmest greetings' to Muslims for Ramadan The business case for child care reform 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 CummingsOvernight Health Care: AstraZeneca may have included outdated data on vaccine trial, officials say | Pelosi says drug pricing measure under discussion for infrastructure package | Biden administration extends special ObamaCare enrollment until August Pelosi: Drug pricing measure under discussion for infrastructure package Bottom line 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 CohenLobbying world Buttigieg charms Washington with his accessibility Chris Christie joins board of New York Mets 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 SchiffHillicon Valley: Intel heads to resume threats hearing scrapped under Trump | New small business coalition to urge action on antitrust policy | Amazon backs corporate tax hike to pay for infrastructure Intel heads to resume worldwide threats hearing scrapped under Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Biden tasks Harris on border; news conference today MORE (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

Rep. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis Nadler10 Democrats join NAACP lawsuit against Trump On The Trail: How marijuana went mainstream House passes bills providing citizenship path for Dreamers, farmworkers 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?”