As Democrat support grows, leaders of the party take notice.
After Rep. Al Green’s impeachment article vote failed in the House last month, the matter seems to be back on the table and growing in support. Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said Friday that his committee may recommend articles of impeachment by November, adding that they are already engaged in an “impeachment investigation.”
As of mid-August 2019, 118 representatives in the House now support an impeachment inquiry. That is 117 Democrats and Justin Amash, who recently stepped away from the Republican Party, protesting congressional partisanship in the face of executive overreach and corruption in an op-ed for the Washington Post.
Currently no Republicans in the House or Senate support impeachment or continued investigation in any form. When asked by the New York Times, Mark Walker, representing North Carolina’s 6th district called it a “baseless distraction” from the concerns of everyday Americans and Bill Johnson of Ohio responded “Come On! Impeach him for what?!”
For now, opinion seems to be split perfectly across party lines. But even with the increase in support amongst Democratic Congress members, some are hesitant to push for official action.
Nancy Pelosi continues encouraging democrats in Congress to, “Legislate, investigate, and litigate,” but warns her excited caucus that impeachment would be too divisive. “He’s goading us to impeach him,” she said in a press conference in May, warning that an unpopular impeachment would only serve to “solidify his base.”
There is also concern among Democrats in swing districts that impeachment could hurt their candidacy in 2020. Many moderate Democrats won midterm elections in districts that went to Trump in 2016 and fear backlash from their right leaning constituency.
For now, it is unclear whether these fears are warranted. It has proven difficult for pollsters to get a clear view of the national mood, and different polls paint very different pictures of popular opinion. Numbers range from 27 percent of voters supporting impeachment to 50 percent. The percentage opposed is far more stable, around 45—consistent with Trump’s approval rating.
Still, support in Congress is growing and Pelosi may not be able to hold back her caucus much longer. With the majority Democrat support of formal inquiry, other party leaders are becoming more open to the idea. Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Elijah Cummings told the New York Times, “I’m still mulling it over…but I’m getting there,” a change from earlier this year.
Trump continues to question the motives of House democrats in a comment after Robert Mueller’s testimony last week, saying, “The democrats thought they could win an election like this,” and calling the investigations, “Three years of embarrassment and waste of time for our country.”
“He has done many impeachable offenses. He’s violated the law six ways from Sunday,” says Nadler. “That’s not the question. The question is, can we develop enough evidence to put before the American people?”
A question that will be answered in the coming months.