Dem clamor for impeachment swells as McGahn refuses testimony

The chorus of House Democrats calling to launch impeachment proceedings against President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump pushes back on recent polling data, says internal numbers are 'strongest we've had so far' Illinois state lawmaker apologizes for photos depicting mock assassination of Trump Scaramucci assembling team of former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump MORE is growing louder amid heightened White House stonewalling in the face of numerous probes into the administration.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiWhy President Trump needs to speak out on Hong Kong Anti-Trump vets join Steyer group in pressing Democrats to impeach Trump Pelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid MORE (D-Calif.) has, for years, sought to dampen talk of impeachment, fearing the backlash from a public that's not yet on board with ousting the president. And her message has resonated widely within a Democratic Caucus that's overwhelmingly supported her more cautious investigative approach.

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But those same probes have been dogged by the administration's refusal to turn over documents and allow witnesses to testify before committees, particularly in relation to special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Kellyanne Conway: 'I'd like to know' if Mueller read his own report MORE's sweeping report on Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

The latest episode came this week when former White House counsel Don McGahn announced he would follow the White House's urging and defy a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee to appear Tuesday before the panel.

For a number of Democrats who have been treading carefully into the impeachment debate, McGahn's recalcitrance seemed to mark the end of their rope.

Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineHillicon Valley: O'Rourke proposal targets tech's legal shield | Dem wants public review of FCC agreement with T-Mobile, Sprint | Voters zero in on cybersecurity | Instagram to let users flag misinformation Democrat calls for public review of T-Mobile-Sprint merger agreement Pelosi: Israel's Omar-Tlaib decision 'a sign of weakness' MORE (D-R.I.), the head of the Democrats' messaging arm, broke from Pelosi's no-impeachment strategy Monday night in calling for the launch of an impeachment inquiry into Trump if McGahn did not testify Tuesday — and McGahn did, in fact, skip the hearing. And as scores of Democratic lawmakers filtered out of a closed-door caucus meeting in the Capitol basement Tuesday morning, many said the time has come to launch formal proceedings to oust Trump.

"Nobody gets elected to Congress, nobody runs for Congress, with the idea that, 'I want to go there and start an impeachment.' But I think that's what it's come to," said Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroJuan Williams: Democrats finally hit Trump where it hurts Texas Democrats tap Joaquin Castro to deliver key address Assault weapons ban picks up steam in Congress MORE (D-Texas), a member of the Intelligence Committee. "Obviously, all of us respect [Pelosi's] perspective and her opinion. But I think, individually, each of us have a perspective of our own. And I think it's time to start [impeachment]."

Others echoed that message, with some calling impeachment proceedings "inevitable."

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"I think it's time, I do," said Rep. John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthTrump signs two-year budget deal Lawmakers point to entitlements when asked about deficits House Problem Solvers are bringing real change to Congress MORE (D-Ky.), who is chairman of the Budget Committee and a de-facto member of Pelosi's leadership team. "I think the sheer disregard for provisions of the Constitution [providing] checks and balances is enough reason to begin the inquiry — formally.

Democrats will hold a caucus meeting on Wednesday morning to discuss their oversight and investigations of the Trump administration, offering an opportunity for a longer discussion on impeachment. 

"I think there's a growing understanding that ... the impeachment process is going to be inevitable. It's just a question of when, not if," Yarmuth added. "And if it happens this summer, that's fine. If it goes into the fall or next year, I think that's probably too late."

Democratic leaders are also facing new pressure to consider impeachment now that Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashLawmakers blast Trump as Israel bars door to Tlaib and Omar House Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 Sanford headed to New Hampshire amid talk of challenge to Trump MORE (R-Mich.) has repeatedly said in recent days that Trump should be impeached for obstruction of justice.

Amash on Saturday became the first GOP lawmaker to say the president engaged in "impeachable conduct." He later stood firm by those remarks amid a backlash from fellow Republicans.

It's unclear just how many Democrats are eager to launch impeachment proceedings against the president, and Pelosi still has plenty of backing in the caucus she's controlled since 2003.

At a leadership meeting Monday night, her top lieutenants — House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerLiberal Democrat eyes aid cuts to Israel after Omar, Tlaib denied entry Lawmakers blast Trump as Israel bars door to Tlaib and Omar Israel denies Omar and Tlaib entry after Trump tweet MORE (D-Md.) and House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) — both joined her side when Cicilline spoke up in support of launching an impeachment inquiry. And many rank-and-file members also support her more cautious approach.

"We need to show the American public that we have whatever evidence there is, and make a decision based on that," Rep. Tony CardenasAntonio (Tony) CardenasMORE (D-Calif.) said going into Tuesday's caucus meeting.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), former head of the Congressional Black Caucus, is also not ready to launch impeachment — yet.

"I think we're getting very, very close to that point," Cleaver said. "I'm not there yet, but I think every time someone refuses to testify, every time the president blocks another civilian who's not working for the federal government from testifying ... then more and more people are saying, 'You know, he's pushing us to the edge.' "

A crucial factor in the debate, Cleaver argued, is having Pelosi on board.

"The Speaker needs to be there," he said. "You don't elect a leader and then run off and leave her."

Yet others seem more than ready to do so.

Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenDanish prime minister: Trump's idea to buy Greenland 'absurd'  Juan Williams: Democrats finally hit Trump where it hurts We need a climate plan for agriculture MORE (D-Texas), who's emerged as the face of the impeachment push in the House, said he's been encouraged by Cicilline's new support for the effort, and predicted the issue will soon come to the floor.

"I am convinced that there will be a vote on impeachment, and I am convinced that people are starting to conclude that it should be sooner rather than later," said Green, who has been threatening for months to force a vote. "My hope is that somebody else will [force the vote]; but if nobody else does, I will."

Green then went to the House floor, where he called for Democratic leaders to launch impeachment proceedings immediately.