Democrats face voters clamoring for impeachment

House Democrats are hearing more calls from their constituents back home to move forward on impeaching President TrumpDonald John TrumpStates slashed 4,400 environmental agency jobs in past decade: study Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Iran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report MORE, adding to the pressure as they return to Washington this week.

While many Democrats have long insisted that voters at town halls would rather talk about kitchen table issues than special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump MORE's probe, that began to change this week as the number of lawmakers endorsing impeachment climbed to at least 50.

The pressure began to extend to some swing districts, where constituents pressed Democratic members such as Reps. Ann KirkpatrickAnn KirkpatrickAdam Schiff's star rises with impeachment hearings Swing-seat Democrats oppose impeachment, handing Pelosi leverage McSally gets new primary challenger MORE (Ariz.) and Donna ShalalaDonna Edna ShalalaThree legal scholars say Trump should be impeached; one thinks otherwise Overnight Defense: Trump cancels presser, cuts short NATO trip | Viral video catches leaders appearing to gossip about Trump | Dem witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses | Trump reportedly mulling more troops in Middle East Pelosi to Democrats: 'Are you ready?' MORE (Fla.) to move ahead with impeachment proceedings.

ADVERTISEMENT

Rep. Madeleine DeanMadeleine DeanImpeachment inquiry enters critical new phase Democrat unveils bill requiring banks to identify suspicious activity related to guns Democratic lawmakers call on Judiciary Committee to advance 'revenge porn' law MORE (D-Pa.), a Judiciary Committee member who backs launching an impeachment inquiry, said the widespread support from her constituents at a Wednesday town hall "is a shift" from even a month ago.

House Democrats' district town halls during the Memorial Day recess came as Mueller made his first public appearance to reiterate the findings in his report about Russia's election interference and Trump’s efforts to obstruct the investigation. More than a dozen Democrats subsequently jumped on the impeachment train, citing Mueller’s assertion that “if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

But even before that, the number of Democrats endorsing an impeachment inquiry began to swell a week earlier after Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashHillicon Valley: House passes anti-robocall bill | Senators inch forward on privacy legislation | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Illinois families sue TikTok | Senators get classified briefing on ransomware House passes anti-robocall bill Pressure grows on House GOP leaders to hold line ahead of impeachment trial MORE (Mich.) became the first congressional Republican to declare that Trump engaged in impeachable conduct and former White House counsel Don McGahn rebuffed Judiciary Committee Democrats' demands to appear for a hearing.

All together, that deepened the agitation for Democrats to take action despite leadership’s resistance to impeachment.

ADVERTISEMENT

Nearly all the Democrats calling for an impeachment inquiry — with the exception of freshman Rep. Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiMore than 100 Democrats sign letter calling for Stephen Miller to resign Diplomat ties Trump closer to Ukraine furor Impeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point MORE (N.J.) — hail from safe blue districts. But the impeachment talk is starting to raise its head across the country, even if swing-district lawmakers largely aren’t ready to get on board yet.

Kirkpatrick acknowledged to the audience at her town hall — just hours after Mueller made his statement on Wednesday — that the phones in her offices were “ringing off the hook.” A spokeswoman said that the Arizona Democrat has faced “occasional” questions about impeachment over the past few months but until now hadn’t held a town hall where she was grilled on the subject.

“When Congress assembles the facts regarding the president’s abuse of power and attempts to obstruct justice, we may have the evidence needed to draw up articles of impeachment,” Kirkpatrick said at the town hall.

But one man in the audience questioned why Mueller’s findings on obstruction of justice weren’t sufficient evidence for impeachment on its own.

“I think it is,” Kirkpatrick replied. But she maintained that Democrats need to keep investigating and build more consensus before proceeding. “I know it’s a little frustrating because people want something to happen right away.”

Before taking questions at her town hall, Shalala outlined the bills House Democrats have been passing from their policy agenda. “If you read the papers, you'd think all we're doing is debating impeachment or something,” she said.

But the first constituent question was about impeachment.

“I understand what you guys are doing with these bills, and that's great. But you can't fix the roof if the house is on fire. So it's not acceptable that we're ignoring this,” the constituent told Shalala in impassioned remarks.

Shalala replied that Democrats need to have Mueller testify before Congress to better explain the report’s conclusions to the public because she thinks it’s unlikely most people have actually read the full 448-page report.

“We have to lay out the evidence,” she said.

Shalala told The Hill that it was the first time in the eight town halls she’s held so far this year that a constituent brought up impeachment.

Notably, no one else at the town hall followed up on the topic, instead asking about issues such as health care, affordable housing and immigration.

“In fact, I was surprised it wasn't brought up more than it was,” Shalala said in an interview, noting that she’s heard a lot more about impeachment from her friends and at a fundraiser she attended in New York over the recess.

“It's not that people aren't watching. It's just that there are other issues that they're really concerned about,” Shalala said.

But at a joint town hall held by Democratic Texas Reps. Colin Allred and Marc VeaseyMarc Allison VeaseyDemocrats decry Trump's push to slash number of accepted refugees Lawmakers beat Capitol Police in Congressional Football Game Why the Helsinki Commission still matters MORE, a moderator compiled several questions from attendees about where they stood on impeachment.

Allred, like Kirkpatrick and Shalala, represents a district that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThree legal scholars say Trump should be impeached; one thinks otherwise Report: Barr attorney can't provide evidence Trump was set up by DOJ Jayapal pushes back on Gaetz's questioning of impeachment witness donations to Democrats MORE carried in 2016 but had been held by Republicans until last November. He and Veasey both agreed that Congress should keep investigating before advancing to impeachment.

“I know that there are a lot of my constituents, a lot of my friends even, who disagree with me about that,” Allred said.

Still, for all the impeachment rage boiling over in the bluest parts of the country, it’s moving more slowly in Trump country.

Freshman Democrats in districts where Trump won in 2016 either heard no questions at all about impeachment or didn’t face pushback for defending a go-slow stance.

Impeachment didn’t come up once at town halls held by Democratic Reps. Angie Craig (Minn.) and Elaine LuriaElaine Goodman LuriaLawmakers honor JFK on 56th anniversary of his death Overnight Health Care: Democratic group to only endorse AG candidates who back abortion rights | Protect Our Care launches seven-figure ad buy to boost vulnerable Dems | California sues Juul Group launches seven-figure ad buy boosting vulnerable Democrats on drug prices MORE (Va.).

And Rep. Antonio DelgadoAntonio Ramon DelgadoPowerful House panel to hold 'Medicare for All' hearing next week Overnight Health Care: Democratic group to only endorse AG candidates who back abortion rights | Protect Our Care launches seven-figure ad buy to boost vulnerable Dems | California sues Juul Group launches seven-figure ad buy boosting vulnerable Democrats on drug prices MORE (D-N.Y.) drew some applause at his town hall, which took place before Mueller’s statement, for echoing Democratic leaders’ preference to stay the course with more investigations.

"I did not run ... to impeach the president," Delgado said, according to the Daily Freeman. "There is a process here, and that process needs to unfold."

Dean, meanwhile, said she’s seeing an uptick in support for impeachment among her constituents even in her solidly blue district, even as her Wednesday town hall attendees asked about topics than included health care, climate change, gun violence and infrastructure.

"There's been a shift in the conversation in my community in my district," Dean told MSNBC’s "Meet the Press Daily." "The room mostly — I would say 99 percent of the room — applauded in terms of impeachment inquiry. They absolutely did. That is a shift from four or five or six weeks ago."

At her town hall, Dean appeared to express surprise when impeachment was one of the first few questions.

"I actually wondered whether anybody would bring it up," Dean said.

The audience laughed.

Erika Gebhardt and Brittany Slaughter contributed.