The Democrats claimed, on Tuesday, that they had all the support they needed to open an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, but Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was having difficulty as recently as Wednesday night marshaling enough Democratic support to get the effort off the ground. By Wednesday afternoon, she was still several “yeas” short of a majority and the House Rules Committee had yet to hear from the Speaker’s office on scheduling a floor vote.
That reportedly changed Thursday morning, as major news networks announced that Pelosi had the 218 votes needed to potentially impeach the President: 217 Democrats and one Republican, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI).
But there’s just one problem: not every Democrat the media is counting as in favor of impeachment is on the same page. NBC News reports that the 218 votes all back “some form” of impeachment, but they can’t agree on which form — a major hurdle for Democratic leadership looking to kick off the process as soon as possible so as to retain the most benefit from it in the 2020 presidential election.
“That nearly all House Democrats support some kind of impeachment action represents a significant development in the chamber’s push forward with official impeachment proceedings. But that doesn’t mean they will all vote to impeach the president,” NBC News claims.
“The different terms the lawmakers are using to discuss the issue make it unclear how they will vote if articles of impeachment were to go before the full House,” the news outlet continues. “The Democratic holdouts, meanwhile, include several of those in competitive districts — some who flipped seats last year.”
A handful of Democrats have expressed concern that the inquiry is moving too quickly, and that Democrats, excited by news of a whistleblower within the administration, jumped on the bandwagon before fully vetting the whistleblower’s claims. Thursday morning that seemed to create unease as it became clear the whistleblower was not providing legislators with a firsthand account of witnessed activities, but a second- or third-hand account. Democrats are also missing the all-important “smoking gun:” evidence that President Trump inked a quid-pro-quo with Ukrainian leaders to benefit his campaign.
Some in the media even expressed concern, Thursday, that the Ukrainian “deal” was difficult to understand, and that Americans aren’t satisfied to let major news networks explain it to them. Without a clear handle on how, precisely, the president violated the terms of his office, Trump voters might be energized by impeachment, not motivated to rescind their support.
As for the Democratic holdouts, well, they’re concerned that progressives have hijacked the party’s agenda, and that it could end up costing the party vulnerable seats, especially if impeaching Trump ends up benefitting the president, according to Politico.
“In a closed-door meeting on Tuesday, multiple centrist lawmakers expressed concern that the caucus lacked clear messaging or strategy going forward, which could soon suck the air out of the move toward impeachment, according to multiple lawmakers and aides,” the D.C.-based outlet reported late Wednesday. Freshmen lawmakers in the meeting accused leadership of everything from poor message discipline to losing sight of party priorities to leaving first-term members in competitive districts out to dry.
They’re especially concerned with party progressives,who are “declaring prematurely that Democrats are ready to imminently impeach Trump,” before an actual impeachment inquiry can be completed.
More rational Democrats concerned with the party’s future probably aren’t going to find much sympathy among their progressive colleagues, who believe catering to the “resistance” is more important than retaining control of Congress. Leader of the “squad” — the body’s most vocal progressive group — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), delivered a message to her waffling cohorts Thursday morning: they should be ready to lose because impeachment is more important.
“I personally do not believe in fulfilling my obligations to my job based on polling data,” she told CNN. “I think we need to do our job and we’ve been elected and sent here by the people of the United States of America to fulfill all of our obligations under the Constitution of the United States.”
She may be self-satisfied, but the sentiment isn’t shared by most Americans. A Morning Consult poll, covered earlier by The Daily Wire, shows that impeachment is not popular nationally, even among moderates and independents. The only group fully committed to impeachment is, of course, progressives, who will likely vote for Democrats anyway.