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Vulnerable Democrats swing behind impeachment push

Vulnerable House Democrats are falling in line to vote for articles of impeachment against President TrumpDonald TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call MORE despite expressing nervousness in recent days about what will be their most momentous vote this year. 

Two freshman Democrats joined colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee in backing the two articles of impeachment in Friday’s 23-17 panel vote, and a steady stream of fellow swing-district Democrats have been announcing their plans to support them.

“A president coercing a foreign government into targeting American citizens is not just another example of scorched earth politics, it serves as an invitation to the enemies of the United States to come after any citizen, so long as they disagree with the President,” freshman Rep. Max RoseMax RoseOvernight Defense: Austin takes helm at Pentagon | COVID-19 briefing part of Day 1 agenda | Outrage over images of National Guard troops in parking garage Austin sworn in as nation's first Black Pentagon chief We lost in November — we're proud we didn't take corporate PAC money MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

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“Embarking on an unprecedented effort to obstruct this inquiry doesn’t make the facts any less true. Therefore I will vote in support of the two Articles of Impeachment,” he said.

Freshman Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas), who flipped a GOP-held district that’s trending blue, similarly said Trump’s actions trying to enlist the Ukrainian government to investigate his political rivals were an “unacceptable violation of his oath of office and constitute an impeachable abuse of power.”

Democratic lawmakers and aides said this week they only expected a handful of defections.

So far, freshman New Jersey Rep. Jefferson Van Drew remains the only Democrat to make clear he intends to vote against the articles. He said this week he expected Rep. Collin PetersonCollin Clark PetersonOn The Trail: The political losers of 2020 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump admin to sell oil leases at Arctic wildlife refuge before Biden takes office |Trump administration approves controversial oil testing method in Gulf of Mexico | Rep. Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel Rep. David Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel MORE (D-Minn.) — who has yet to issue an official position — to join him in voting "no." The two were the only Democrats to oppose a resolution establishing procedures for the inquiry in late October.

Many of the lawmakers in competitive districts made a point of touting the legislative accomplishments they secured this week, namely a deal with the Trump administration on a North American trade pact and Democrats’ bill aimed at reducing prescription drug prices, to try to show they aren’t just focused on impeachment.

Rose pointed to legislation permanently funding health benefits for 9/11 first responders along with other bills important to his district, stating: “Whether the Senate votes to remove the president or not, I will continue to focus on getting results for the people of Staten Island and South Brooklyn.”

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Allred said he would “not allow this process to distract me from the important work of delivering real results for North Texas families.”

In addition to the North American trade pact and prescription drug bill, House Democratic leaders are teeing up a vote on legislation to temporarily repeal a controversial provision of the 2017 GOP tax law that caps the state and local tax deduction. 

That’s expected to offer another boost for vulnerable Democrats in high-tax states such as New York, New Jersey and California.

A number of centrist Democrats facing challenging reelection battles have been cagey over their support for impeachment, telling the hordes of reporters hounding them in the Capitol hallways that they were still taking time to mull their decisions.

By Friday, the announcements from Democrats in swing districts were quickly piling up.

Democrats who have announced in the past 24 hours that they will vote for the articles of impeachment include Reps. Conor Lamb (Pa.), Kim SchrierKimberly (Kim) Merle SchrierDemocrats point fingers on whether Capitol rioters had inside help Rep. Kim Schrier defends Washington House seat from GOP challenger House approves .2T COVID-19 relief bill as White House talks stall MORE (Wash.), Katie Porter (Calif.), Susie LeeSuzanne (Susie) Kelley LeeMORE (Nev.) and Tom O’Halleran (Ariz.).

“Trump abused the power of the presidency and broke his oath of office when he bribed the nation of Ukraine by withholding military aid they had already been promised in exchange for help investigating a political opponent,” O’Halleran, whose district Trump won by 1 percentage point in 2016, said in a statement. 

“I will vote to impeach the president because this bribery and abuse of power violated the constitution and put our national security and our international relationships at risk,” he said.

The two Judiciary freshmen who backed the articles of impeachment in Friday’s vote were Reps. Lucy McBathLucia (Lucy) Kay McBathHouse Judiciary Democrats ask Pence to invoke 25th Amendment to remove Trump On The Trail: Eight takeaways from Georgia's stunning election results Maloney vows to overhaul a House Democratic campaign machine 'stuck in the past' MORE (Ga.) and Debbie Mucarsel-PowellDebbie Mucarsel-PowellTrump, Florida complicate Biden approach to Cuba The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Coast-to-coast fears about post-holiday COVID-19 spread The Memo: Democrats see warning signs beyond 2020 MORE (Fla.).

Mucarsel-Powell — who defeated a GOP incumbent by just over a point last year in a south Florida district that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden must wait weekend for State Department pick Texas Supreme Court rejects Alex Jones request to toss lawsuits from Sandy Hook parents Paris Agreement: Biden's chance to restore international standing MORE carried in 2016 — acknowledged that her district is torn over impeachment.

“I do know that there are so many people in the country that are divided,” Mucarsel-Powell told MSNBC’s Katy Tur on Friday afternoon. “In my district, I hope that they trust when I took that vote, I had everyone's safety and future in mind. I did it for our children so that we can actually protect our system of government.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee, the House GOP’s campaign arm, as well as outside GOP groups, already have spent millions of dollars on ads hammering vulnerable Democrats over the impeachment issue.

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The Trump reelection campaign also has mounted an anti-impeachment ad blitz, running thousands of ads on Facebook targeting the 31 Democrats who represent districts that Trump won in 2016.

At-risk Democrats have privately and publicly lamented that they are being pummeled on the airwaves and online over the looming impeachment vote. Rep. Matt CartwrightMatthew (Matt) Alton CartwrightHouse Democrats pick Aguilar as No. 6 leader in next Congress Democrats to determine leaders after disappointing election The Hill's Campaign Newsletter: Election Day – Part 4 MORE (D-Pa.) told The Hill that GOP groups have blanketed his district with nearly a half-million dollars in anti-impeachment TV ads in recent weeks, something he called “a king’s ransom.”

Only now are these Democrats beginning to get some air cover. Billionaire businessman Michael BloombergMichael BloombergEverytown calls on Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to resign Biden selects Gina Raimondo for Commerce chief: reports 7 surprise moments from a tumultuous year in politics MORE, who’s running for the Democratic presidential nomination, donated $10 million Thursday to help shore up House members on the front lines.

The Democratic super PAC House Majority Forward announced Friday it would spend $2.5 million to run ads thanking 16 vulnerable freshmen for voting to pass prescription drug legislation this week. Those Democratic lawmakers include Rose and Reps. Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerHillicon Valley: Intelligence agency gathers US smartphone location data without warrants, memo says | Democrats seek answers on impact of Russian hack on DOJ, courts | Airbnb offers Biden administration help with vaccine distribution House lawmakers reintroduce bipartisan bill to weed out foreign disinformation on social media 'I saw my life flash before my eyes': An oral history of the Capitol attack MORE (Va.), Abby FinkenauerAbby Lea FinkenauerChamber of Commerce slams GOP effort to challenge Biden's win Iowa losses underscore Democrats' struggles with attracting rural voters Here are the 17 GOP women newly elected to the House this year MORE (Iowa) and Kendra HornKendra Suzanne HornThe US's investment in AI is lagging, we have a chance to double it What should Biden do with NASA and the Artemis Program? Here are the 17 GOP women newly elected to the House this year MORE (Okla.). 

“Abigail Spanberger passed a bill to let Medicare negotiate lower drug prices for all Americans,” the narrator in one ad says, “and Spanberger was the sponsor of another bill, passed by Democrats and Republicans, to stop drug companies from hiding their costs.”

Asked Thursday what her message was to vulnerable Democrats who were undecided, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSunday shows preview: All eyes on Biden administration to tackle coronavirus Calls grow for 9/11-style panel to probe Capitol attack Do Democrats really want unity? MORE (D-Calif.) reiterated that House Democratic leaders are not conducting a formal whip count for the impeachment articles because it's a vote of “conscience.”

“People have to come to their own conclusions,” Pelosi said.