Real­ity check: Dem at­ti­tudes on im­peach­ment vary widely

The Saline Courier - - NEWS -

WASHINGTON — Im­peach Trump? For Democrats, the an­swer is com­pli­cated.

While more than 130 House Democrats — more than half the cau­cus — have come out in fa­vor of an im­peach­ment in­quiry into Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, ac­cord­ing to a tally by The As­so­ci­ated Press, those num­bers don’t re­flect the whole story. The num­ber of Democrats who would ac­tu­ally vote to rec­om­mend ar­ti­cles of im­peach­ment, at this point, is sig­nif­i­cantly smaller.

The pic­ture has been com­pli­cated fur­ther by House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Jer­rold Nadler’s in­sis­tence, be­gin­ning in late July, that the panel is al­ready con­duct­ing im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings. Since then, some Democrats have en­dorsed Ju­di­ciary’s work on im­peach­ment with­out tak­ing a po­si­tion on whether to vote to be­gin an of­fi­cial in­quiry.

The vary­ing sen­ti­ments will be crit­i­cal as Democrats de­cide the next steps this fall. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has re­peat­edly coun­seled cau­tion, telling Demo­cratic col­leagues on a call last week that “the public isn’t there on im­peach­ment” and the case needs to be as strong as pos­si­ble.

A break­down of where the Democrats stand:

THE RIGHT NOW DEMOCRATS

A hand­ful of the most lib­eral Democrats in the cau­cus have been push­ing for im­peach­ment since Trump was elected. Texas Rep. Al Green has been lob­by­ing to remove the pres­i­dent since 2017, and has al­ready forced three im­peach­ment votes on the House floor. The most re­cent vote, in July, failed by a lop­sided 332-95 vote.

The right now group also in­cludes the self-de­scribed “squad” of fresh­men Democrats: Reps. Alexan­dria Oca­sio-cortez of New York, Il­han Omar of Min­nesota, Ayanna Press­ley of Mas­sachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Tlaib has in­tro­duced a res­o­lu­tion to be­gin the im­peach­ment process; it has 17 co-spon­sors.

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THE PRO­CEED QUICKLY DEMOCRATS

Mem­bers of the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee have been at the fore­front of calls for an in­quiry. The com­mit­tee, which over­sees im­peach­ment and other hot-but­ton is­sues like guns and im­mi­gra­tion, of­ten at­tracts some of the cau­cus’ most lib­eral mem­bers. Democrats on the panel were among the first to start push­ing Pelosi last spring, with many say­ing after the re­lease of former spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s re­port that the House needed to for­mally con­sider im­peach­ment.

“Here in Ju­di­ciary we are on the front line,” Penn­syl­va­nia Rep. Made­line Dean said in May, after she called for an im­peach­ment in­quiry. “And I be­lieve that our cau­cus is count­ing on us to in­form them, day by day.”

The im­peach­ment calls from the Ju­di­ciary com­mit­tee in the spring were soon am­pli­fied by many Democrats in the most lib­eral dis­tricts.

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THE RE­LUC­TANT BUT SUP­PORT­IVE DEMOCRATS

As the list of in­quiry sup­port­ers grew, some Democrats from less lib­eral dis­tricts joined the calls. But they were more cau­tious.

“I be­lieve my con­stituents sent me to Congress, in part, be­cause of my rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing thought­ful and de­lib­er­ate,” Vir­ginia Rep. Jen­nifer Wex­ton, a fresh­man from a swing district, said in July. “I did not run for of­fice with the pur­pose of im­peach­ing the pres­i­dent, but I did take an oath to up­hold and de­fend the Con­sti­tu­tion.”

Illi­nois Rep. Lau­ren Un­der­wood hails from a district that sup­ported Trump in 2016.

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