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 John TrumpNew Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments Ocasio-Cortez: Trump contributed less in taxes 'than waitresses and undocumented immigrants' Third judge orders Postal Service to halt delivery cuts 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 DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinGOP senators confident Trump pick to be confirmed by November Sunday Shows: Trump's court pick dominates Durbin: Democrats can 'slow' Supreme Court confirmation 'perhaps a matter of hours, maybe days at most' 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 GiulianiTrump says Christie, Giuliani assisting debate prep The Hill's Campaign Report: GOP set to ask SCOTUS to limit mail-in voting CIA found Putin 'probably directing' campaign against Biden: report MORE, tried to pressure Ukraine into investigating former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenNew Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments Biden campaign sells 'I paid more income taxes than Trump' stickers Trump, Biden have one debate goal: Don't lose 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 MurraySenate Democrats introduce legislation to probe politicization of pandemic response Trump health officials grilled over reports of politics in COVID-19 response CDC director pushes back on Caputo claim of 'resistance unit' at agency MORE (Wash.) and Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowSunday Shows: Trump's court pick dominates Booker says he will ask Amy Coney Barrett if she will recuse herself from presidential election-related cases Schumer says Trump tweet shows court pick meant to kill off ObamaCare 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 SmithThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump faces backlash after not committing to peaceful transition of power Credit union group to spend million on Senate, House races Health officials tell public to trust in science MORE (Minn.), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenCongress must finish work on popular conservation bill before time runs out Democrats fear Russia interference could spoil bid to retake Senate Mid-Atlantic states sue EPA over Chesapeake Bay pollution MORE (Md.) and Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzDemocrats blast Trump after report reveals he avoided income taxes for 10 years: 'Disgusting' Democrats turn focus to health care for Supreme Court fight Democratic senator to party: 'A little message discipline wouldn't kill us' 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 MurphyGOP online donor platform offering supporters 'Notorious A.C.B.' shirts Democratic senator calls for 'more flexible' medical supply chain to counter pandemics The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Don't expect a government check anytime soon 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 PelosiPelosi preparing for House to decide presidency if neither Trump or Biden win electoral college: report Trump seeks boost from seniors with 0 drug discount coupons GOP senators confident Trump pick to be confirmed by November 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) TesterDemocrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court Pence seeks to boost Daines in critical Montana Senate race This World Suicide Prevention Day, let's recommit to protecting the lives of our veterans 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 CardinPelosi hopeful COVID-19 relief talks resume 'soon' Congress must finish work on popular conservation bill before time runs out PPP application window closes after coronavirus talks deadlock  MORE (D-Md.) demurred when asked about impeachment, noting it was up to the House. While Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSunday Shows: Trump's court pick dominates Manchin opposes adding justices to the court Trump taps Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court, setting up confirmation sprint 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 CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsCoons: 'Defies comprehension' why Trump continues push to 'strip away' protections for pre-existing conditions Two Judiciary Democrats say they will not meet with Trump's Supreme Court pick Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election 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