Trump impeachment: More than half House Democrats now support ousting president

Numbers add to pressure on House speaker Nancy Pelosi to act

Andrew Buncombe
Friday 02 August 2019 16:04 BST
Nancy Pelosi says 'we know exactly what path we're on' when asked about Trump impeachment

More than half of House Democrats now support impeaching Donald Trump – a milestone figure that will add to the pressure on Nancy Pelosi to promptly move forward with such action.

There has been some confusion as to precisely how many of the 235 Democrats in the House of Representatives are in favour of formally censuring the president.

But on Friday, it was reported that figure had reached 118, marking a symbolic majority of the party in the lower chamber, after California congressman Salud Carbajal issued a statement saying he supported such a move.

“In the past few years, our nation has seen and heard things from this president that have no place in our democracy,” said Mr Carbajal, who represents California’s 24th District, which includes Santa Barbara.

“If anyone else did these things, they would face legal consequences. I’ve read the full Mueller Report, the president knew the rules and he broke them – he cannot be above the law.”

He added: “That is why I believe it is time to open an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.”

It was not immediately clear what impact reaching this figure may or may not have. (Politico reported the figure of 118 had been reached a day earlier.)

Mike Fraioli, a Washington DC-based Democratic consultant, said he believed Ms Pelosi would avoid moving forward with bringing articles of impeachment and calling a vote. Rather, she would allow congressman Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House judiciary committee, to continue his investigations.

“She is exactly right [to do so],” he told The Independent. “Even if the House voted to impeach, [Senate majority leader] Mitch McConnell would just chuck it out. Then Trump would get to run around saying he just got cleared.”

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Others believe the numbers will put additional pressure on Ms Pelosi, 79, who has so far been able to hold off demands for action for progressives such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, by pointing to the party’s success in the 2018 midterm elections when it retook the lower chamber, by campaigning on issues such as healthcare, rather than impeachment.

“We have reached a tipping point. Now we have to have a conversation about this,” said Christina Greer, professor of political science at Fordham University in New York.

“Nancy Pelosi is playing the long game, which is frustrating to many Democrats who believe there is no time to play the long game. Also, her time is coming up. She said she would only run for one term as speaker. She could change her mind, but she would not be heir apparent if she ran.”

Adding to the confusion is the claim by some Democrats that the impeachment process is already under way as a result of last week’s court filing by Mr Nadler, seeking documents to aid his committee’s inquiry. His filing said “articles of impeachment are under consideration as part of the committee’s investigation, although no final determination has been made”.

Among those who say Mr Trump’s impeachment is already in motion is Democratic congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of the House’s progressive caucus.

In an article written with other members of the judiciary committee and published in The Atlantic, she said: “While many people believe that beginning an impeachment investigation can begin only with a vote of the full House of Representatives, this is not true. Article I authorises the House Judiciary Committee to begin this process.”

She added: “We will move forward with the impeachment process. Our investigation will seriously examine all the evidence as we consider whether to bring articles of impeachment or other remedies.”

At a press conference this week in Seattle, Ms Jayapal said people did not understand what had happened last week, and that an impeachment process had been set in motion.

Asked to assess the chances of Mr Trump actually being impeached by the House, she declined to speculate. “I’m not going to hypothesise,” she said. “I want to get the information in front of me.”

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