A small group of Democrats is reportedly pressing House leadership to abandon hope of a vote on impeachment and switch to a vote to censure President Donald Trump instead, in order to preserve Democrat seats up for grabs in close House races.
Politico reported late Tuesday that “House Democrats is floating the longshot idea of censuring President Donald Trump instead of impeaching him, according to multiple lawmakers familiar with the conversations.”
“Those Democrats, all representing districts that Trump won in 2016, huddled on Monday afternoon in an 11th-hour bid to weigh additional — though unlikely — options to punish the president for his role in the Ukraine scandal as the House speeds toward an impeachment vote next week,” according to the Washington, D.C.-based outlet.
The group fears that the impeachment vote has become too partisan, and that the articles of impeachment, announced yesterday, are simply too vague to yield much support from voters who dropped away from supporting the impeachment effort as the House Intelligence Committee and House Judiciary Committee hearings wore on.
It’s unlikely Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) or anyone else in Democratic leadership will entertain the idea — the opportunity to abandon the impeachment effort has likely come and gone — but the group says that there are options other than impeachment that wouldn’t have the same deleterious effect on their poll numbers (and, by extension, Democrats keeping the House).
“The idea of censure, according to the lawmakers, is to offer a competing alternative to impeachment that could attract at least some Republican support on the floor,” Politico reports. “It would also help Democrats avoid a lengthy impeachment trial in the Senate, which some in this group fear could tilt public opinion toward the GOP in the final months before the 2020 election.”
That impeachment trial would take any senator running for President off the campaign trail for weeks, just as primary voters go to the polls in places like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, leaving former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg with a very clear advantage.
If the trial wears on, or ends the way most experts expect — with a partisan vote keeping the president in office — Trump is, likely, the only beneficiary. As the Daily Wire reported early Wednesday, both the Quinnipiac and Monmouth polls released this week show a significant swing against impeachment.
Of course, the idea of censure is nothing new. Several Democrats in battleground states have raised the idea before, only for it to fall on deaf ears. Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leadership knew that when they announced an effort to impeach the president, that they would have to follow through or else find themselves in a sticky situation, not just with moderate Democrats but with progressives, who have been waiting to impeach Donald Trump from the moment he was elected, and who would punish the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee if they weren’t appeased.
What is new, though, is the numbers. Politico says that there are 10 Democrats willing to join this crusade. It doesn’t give them much sway over leadership, but it does demostrate a significant step on the way to blocking impeachment in the House if they do not get their way. The group would need at least eight more Democrats to join their effort in order to really make a difference but it’s definitely possible.