Liberals keep foot on the gas on impeachment

After months of calling for President TrumpDonald TrumpMeghan McCain: Democrats 'should give a little credit' to Trump for COVID-19 vaccine Trump testing czar warns lockdowns may be on table if people don't get vaccinated Overnight Health Care: CDC details Massachusetts outbreak that sparked mask update | White House says national vaccine mandate 'not under consideration at this time' MORE’s impeachment, his critics on the left are now agitating for the process to move as quickly as possible.

Democrats are trying to keep up their momentum after the overwhelming majority of the caucus backed launching impeachment proceedings this week in light of Trump acknowledging that he urged Ukraine’s leader to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenCDC chief clarifies vaccine comments: 'There will be no nationwide mandate' Overnight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it Biden urges local governments to stave off evictions MORE, a potential 2020 rival.

Democratic leaders aren’t offering a specific timeline for impeachment proceedings, which were officially launched on Tuesday, but liberals are pressing to keep a fast pace on allegations they believe are the most clear-cut for the public to understand to date.

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Congress is now in a two-week recess, with most lawmakers headed back to their districts, despite calls from progressive activists to cancel the break so they could “immediately” get to work on impeachment.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOfficers offer harrowing accounts at first Jan. 6 committee hearing Live coverage: House panel holds first hearing on Jan. 6 probe Five things to watch as Jan. 6 panel begins its work MORE (D-Calif.) said he plans for the panel to work through the recess trying to secure documents and witness interviews. 

The ongoing investigation means that the House is likely still weeks away from drafting and voting on articles of impeachment.

But Democrats feel that the nature of Trump’s actions of withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid while asking for the Biden probe — and underlying documents, including the rough transcript of the call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the whistleblower complaint — will be simple to explain to the public and particularly compelling to an impeachment case.

“I think the facts of this are so damning and so clear,” said Rep. David CicillineDavid CicillineLobbying world Progressive fighting turns personal on internal call over antitrust bills Top Democrat leads bipartisan trip to Middle East MORE (R.I.), the head of Democrats’ messaging arm.

Asked if it’s a priority to move on impeachment before the first votes are cast in 2020, Cicilline replied, “We have to do it much sooner than that.” 

Democrats also want to keep a quick pace now to maintain an upper hand in the messaging war against the White House after the call transcript and whistleblower complaint they obtained this week fueled momentum for their impeachment inquiry.

“We have to move with all deliberate speed so that the Republican propaganda machine and their obstructionism does not prevent the truth from getting out,” said Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinHouse at war over Jan. 6 inquiry, mask mandate GOP Rep. Clyde defends 'normal tourist visit' comparison for Jan. 6 Five takeaways from a bracing day of Jan. 6 testimony MORE (D-Md.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Justice Department says Trump's tax returns should be released | Democrats fall short of votes for extending eviction ban House adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban Photos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris MORE (D-Calif.) said that while Democrats “won't have the calendar be the arbiter,” the inquiry “doesn't have to drag on” either. 

“It's no use to just say by such and such a date, but looking at the, shall we say, the material that the administration is giving us, they are actually speeding up the process,” Pelosi said in an interview on Friday with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

For now, liberal activists feel that Democratic leaders are heeding their calls for urgency with the continued committee activity over the break.

“I think there is a shift that has occurred in the last week where the leadership has been more aligned with the grassroots,” said Ezra Levin, a co-founder of Indivisible, one of the progressive groups that signed a letter to Democratic leaders calling to cancel the recess and instead hold hearings, quickly draft impeachment articles and vote to impeach Trump this fall.

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Levin said that it seemed “appropriate” for rank-and-file lawmakers to get feedback from constituents while the Intelligence Committee keeps working on the impeachment inquiry. But if the inquiry drags late into the fall, Levin warned, that could change.

“If it’s November and there are no hearings happening, there's no vote on the horizon, then I think you'll start to see the grassroots start to get antsy,” he said.

Progressive activists are coordinating grassroots supporters to show up at town halls over the next two weeks, where Democrats are sure to face questions about their impeachment inquiry.

While polls in the last few days have shown that support for impeachment is growing, Democrats are still working to convince a clear majority of the public that Trump should be removed from office.

All but about a dozen Democrats have backed beginning the impeachment process in some form, according to The Hill’s whip list. The holdouts largely hail from competitive swing districts, some of whom will be holding town halls in the coming days, including freshman Democratic Reps. Kendra HornKendra Suzanne HornWhy does Rep. Johnson oppose NASA's commercial human landing system? The US's investment in AI is lagging, we have a chance to double it What should Biden do with NASA and the Artemis Program? MORE (Okla.) and Ben McAdams (Utah).

“I think it's very important that members go home to their constituents and explain what they are thinking,” House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban Top Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure House passes sprawling spending bill ahead of fall shutdown fight MORE (D-Md.) said while defending the plan to send lawmakers home for recess. “This is a matter of grave importance, and the American people need to understand what is occurring.”

Democrats who have long called for impeachment think that other actions by Trump should also be considered impeachable, such as the instances of possible obstruction of justice in 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’s report and whether Trump’s promotion of his businesses while in office has violated the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause. But some are willing to keep the impeachment inquiry focused on Trump urging the Ukrainian government to investigate Biden if it means moving faster.

“One thing I think, strategically, is that Ukraine and this incident is the issue that has united the caucus on impeachment. So as far as it being the primary article, I think we're fine about that,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHouse adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators MORE (D-N.Y.). 

But she added, “I personally would like to see additional articles on there for emoluments because I don't want to send the message that this is OK.”

House committees are moving quickly to obtain additional documents and testimony.

On Friday alone, the Appropriations and Budget panels asked the White House to provide documents on the withholding of security assistance for Ukraine, while the Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoNoem to travel to South Carolina for early voting event Poll: Trump leads 2024 GOP primary trailed by Pence, DeSantis Pence v. Biden on China: Competing but consistent visions MORE for documents relating to the Trump administration’s dealings with Ukraine and instructed him to make five State Department officials available for depositions over the recess.

If the White House stonewalls the Intelligence Committee as it has with other House investigations this year, Schiff said, “They’ll just strengthen the case on obstruction.”