Senate Democrats hesitant to go all-in on impeachment probe

Senate Democrats are divided over whether to throw their full support behind the House impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald TrumpHeadaches intensify for Democrats in Florida Stormy Daniels set to testify against former lawyer Avenatti in fraud trial Cheney challenger wins Wyoming Republican activists' straw poll MORE, with some senators saying they want more information before taking an official position.

The chorus of new voices in the House calling for an impeachment probe over the past two days was in stark contrast to the Senate. Some senators have backed an inquiry moving forward in some form, while others have dodged or argued more time is needed.


“There’s been no meeting or whip or anything like it. Members are drawing their own conclusions and [Senate Minority Leader Charles] Schumer has encouraged us to each think it through on an individual basis,” said Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinThe Memo: Biden looks for way to win back deflated Black voters Effort to overhaul archaic election law wins new momentum Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products MORE (D-Ill.), the Senate Democratic whip, when asked how united the caucus was on impeachment proceedings.

Durbin was one of several Democratic senators who came out in support of moving forward on impeachment after a whistleblower complaint and news reports that Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiOver 3,000 of Giuliani's communications released to prosecutors following FBI seizure National Archives transfers contested presidential documents to Jan. 6 committee Rhode Island school revokes honorary degrees for Giuliani, Flynn MORE, tried to pressure Ukraine into investigating former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenUS threatens sweeping export controls against Russian industries Headaches intensify for Democrats in Florida US orders families of embassy staff in Ukraine to leave country MORE and his son, Hunter Biden.

“I think this may be the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Durbin added. “There’s so much cumulative evidence here and many of us have wondered if this would ever see the light of day in an impeachment inquiry. But I think now we have to move forward.”

Durbin, who is up for reelection next year, is the highest ranking senator to back an impeachment inquiry. Sens. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 CDC leader faces precarious political moment Schumer ramps up filibuster fight ahead of Jan. 6 anniversary MORE (Wash.) and Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowMichigan Republican John James 'strongly considering' House run Updated reconciliation text includes electric vehicle tax credit opposed by Manchin Stabenow calls for expansion of school mental health services MORE (Mich.) — the No. 3 and No. 4 Senate Democrats, respectively — threw their support behind an inquiry earlier this year.

Several other Democrats, including Sens. Tina SmithTina Flint SmithBiden comments add momentum to spending bill's climate measures  Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Climate advocates hopeful after Manchin spending comments MORE (Minn.), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Former Maryland rep announces bid for old House seat MORE (Md.) and Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzForced deadline spurs drastic tactic in Congress These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Overnight Energy & Environment — Starting from 'scratch' on climate, spending bill MORE (Hawaii), have also come out in support of some form of impeachment proceedings or an inquiry in the wake of the fight over obtaining the whistleblower complaint.

“It is now my belief that the House of Representatives must begin an impeachment inquiry into the president’s corrupt efforts to press a foreign nation into the service of his reelection campaign,” Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDemocrats torn over pushing stolen-election narrative Wicker: Biden comments on Ukraine caused 'distress' for both parties Biden huddles with group of senators on Ukraine-Russia tensions MORE (D-Conn.) said Tuesday.

“If, as it appears Mr. Trump has already acknowledged, the president violated his oath of office by using the constitutional powers entrusted to him to try to destroy a political rival, then the president much be impeached,” he added.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) also threw his support behind taking action.

“I reached this decision with sadness, but also anger, after the President has repeatedly broken laws and betrayed his oath of office. His seeking corrupt assistance from a foreign leader for personal political gain crosses the line,” Blumenthal said in a statement.

Their announcements came before Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse has the power to subpoena its members — but does it have the will? Man who threatened to kill Ocasio-Cortez, Pelosi pleads guilty to federal charges The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems look to repackage BBB into salvageable bill MORE (D-Calif.), facing insurmountable pressure from within her caucus, announced Tuesday evening that the House will initiate an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s reported efforts to get Ukraine to go after the Bidens.

Trump appeared to acknowledge Sunday that he had discussed Joe Biden on the call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. But he said on Monday that he did not threaten to withhold U.S. aid to Ukraine unless they investigated the Biden family.

He confirmed on Tuesday that he had delayed the Ukraine aid, and also said he’s authorized the release of the transcript of his call with Ukraine.

But several Senate Democrats are cautious about backing an impeachment proceeding or getting ahead of Pelosi.

Schumer (D-N.Y.) has been laser focused on trying to get the Senate to support forcing the Trump administration to hand the whistleblower complaint over to Congress. The Senate passed a nonbinding resolution Tuesday urging the administration to hand over the complaint.

Pressed repeatedly on Tuesday about impeachment or an impeachment inquiry during a weekly leadership press conference, Schumer demurred except to say that he trusts Pelosi.

“I speak with regularly with Leader Pelosi … and I believe she’s handling this appropriately and she has my support,” Schumer said.

Democrats may have to confront unfavorable poll numbers if they move forward with trying to impeach Trump, underscoring the political risks to the party. A recent Monmouth University poll, conducted before the recent reports about Trump’s call with Zelensky, found that 35 percent of Americans thought Trump should be impeached, compared to 59 percent who disagreed.

Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSmall ranchers say Biden letting them get squeezed Schumer opted for modest rules reform after pushback from moderates The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Connected Commerce Council - Biden faces reporters as his agenda teeters MORE (D-Mont.), who won reelection last year in a red state, urged his party to “get facts,” particularly from the inspector general (IG) report that contains the whistleblower complaint.

“It's the House, OK. I think we need to get the IG report so we can see what's in it. I think it's important we find out what transpired. And I think if the Republicans buck us on this, they're doing the wrong thing. Get the IG report and then see where that leads you,” he said.

Pressed if impeachment was politically risky, he added: “My point is you can talk about impeachment all you want. We need to get facts. And I think if you get facts, you can sway American people much better.”

Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinDemocrats torn over pushing stolen-election narrative Democrats hope to salvage Biden's agenda on Manchin's terms  Senators introduce bill aimed at protecting Ukrainian civilians MORE (D-Md.) demurred when asked about impeachment, noting it was up to the House. While Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinVoting rights failed in the Senate — where do we go from here? Biden: A good coach knows when to change up the team The Memo: Biden looks for way to win back deflated Black voters MORE (D-W.Va.), declined to take a position.

“I’ve not seen anything. It’s a lot of chatter right now, until we see some facts and see what’s happening … it’s hard to comment on,” Manchin said.

Sen. Christopher CoonsChris Andrew CoonsUS maintains pressure on Russia amid concerns of potential Ukraine invasion Sunday shows - Russia standoff over Ukraine dominates Sunday shows preview: US reaffirms support for Ukraine amid threat of Russian invasion MORE (D-Del.) argued that it was “critical for us to get to the bottom of several fairly alarming allegations,” but sidestepped taking a position on impeachment proceedings.

“If the president wants to disprove any allegations, he can authorize the release of these things tomorrow,” Coons said. 

When a reporter noted that several of his colleagues have backed an impeachment inquiry, Coons fired back: “Good for them.”

— Alexander Bolton contributed