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 TrumpPelosi arrives in Jordan with bipartisan congressional delegation Trump says his Doral resort will no longer host G-7 after backlash CNN's Anderson Cooper mocks WH press secretary over Fox News interview 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 DurbinDemocrats dig in ahead of Supreme Court ruling on 'Dreamers' Senate GOP braces for impeachment trial 'roller coaster' Trump judicial nominee delayed amid GOP pushback 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 GiulianiGiuliani asked State Dept. to grant visa for ex-Ukraine official at center of Biden allegations: report Overnight Energy: Trump taps deputy energy secretary to replace Perry | Praises pick Dan Brouillette as 'total professional' | Perry denies quid pro quo over Ukraine Ex-Watergate prosecutor says evidence in impeachment inquiry 'clearly' points to Trump MORE, tried to pressure Ukraine into investigating former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenCNN's Anderson Cooper mocks WH press secretary over Fox News interview Yang cautions Democrats: Impeachment might not be 'successful' Ocasio-Cortez: Sanders' heart attack was a 'gut check' moment 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 MurrayDemocrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules Biz groups say Warren labor plan would be disaster Freedom of the press under fire in Colorado MORE (Wash.) and Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowPoll shows Sen. Gary Peters with slim lead over GOP rival in Michigan Republican challenger to Gary Peters in Michigan raises over million USDA nixes release of multiple reports over researcher exodus 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 SmithOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — House passes resolution rebuking Trump over Syria | Sparks fly at White House meeting on Syria | Dems say Trump called Pelosi a 'third-rate politician' | Trump, Graham trade jabs Senate confirms Trump's Air Force secretary pick Our hidden infrastructure crisis: School cafeterias MORE (Minn.), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenPelosi, Schumer hit 'flailing' Trump over 'sham ceasefire' deal On The Money: Senate fails to override Trump veto over border emergency | Trump resort to host G-7 next year | Senators to push Turkey sanctions despite ceasefire | McConnell tees up funding votes House Foreign Affairs leaders introduce Turkey sanctions bill MORE (Md.) and Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzDemocratic senator rips Trump's 'let them fight' remarks: 'Enough is enough' Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever CNN catches heat for asking candidates about Ellen, Bush friendship at debate 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 MurphyPelosi, Schumer hit 'flailing' Trump over 'sham ceasefire' deal Romney slams ceasefire deal, calls Trump's Syria move 'a bloodstain' in US history Backlash erupts at video depicting Trump killing media, critics 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 arrives in Jordan with bipartisan congressional delegation Trump says his Doral resort will no longer host G-7 after backlash Scrap House defense authorization provision benefitting Russia 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) TesterBennet reintroduces bill to ban lawmakers from becoming lobbyists Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever Red-state Democrats worry impeachment may spin out of control 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 CardinSenate Democrats want Warren to talk costs on 'Medicare for All' Democrats vow to push for repeal of other Trump rules after loss on power plant rollback Senate Democrats aim to repeal rules blocking Trump tax law workarounds MORE (D-Md.) demurred when asked about impeachment, noting it was up to the House. While Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule Senate Dems lose forced vote against EPA power plant rule Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever 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 CoonsSenate Democrats want Warren to talk costs on 'Medicare for All' Meet the dog and 'sea turtle' who launched campaigns for office Senators demand briefing on Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria 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