As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi presided over a conference call with her Democratic caucus today to discuss the next steps after reading the treasure trove of accounts of presidential malfeasance that is the redacted version of the Mueller report, she could feel the tide shifting away from the shores of the slow steps of evidence gathering and careful political consideration towards the vast ocean of progressive outrage over violated constitutional principles — with its rapidly moving currents pushing the party to a whirlpool of impeachment demands.
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While Pelosi continued to urge caution as she promised to unleash all the powers available to the majority party in her chamber to “uncover the truth” of the president’s “highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior in his alleged attempts to obstruct justice.” she stopped short of immediately calling for impeachment herself.
“We can investigate Trump without drafting articles,” the House Speaker said, referring to articles of impeachment, according to sources on the call. “We aren’t going to go faster, we are going to go as fast as the facts take us,” she added, according to an account of the call published by Politico.
Her statement was presaged by comments in a letter she had sent to her colleagues earlier in the day.
“It is also important to know that the facts regarding holding the President accountable can be gained outside of impeachment hearings,” she wrote.
Many in the rank and file were already swimming far upstream of the Speaker, impatient with what they saw as an overly cautious approach in the face of clear evidence of impeachable offenses committed by the president.
Politico’s congressional correspondent, Andrew Desiderio, revealed some of the pushback by the more progressive representatives anxious to move more quickly than the leadership would like.
Demings: “While I understand we need to see the full report and all supporting documents, I BELIEVE we have enough evidence NOW.”
Emphasis from sources.
— Andrew Desiderio (@desiderioDC) April 22, 2019
Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA), a vocal supporter of impeachment, told his fellow Democrats that they have to face the risks inherent in “not [pursuing] impeachment in the face of this lawlessness.”
Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) raised the possibility of censuring Trump rather than impeaching him, but House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) rebuffed the idea as potentially achievable but meaningless in terms of legal weight.
The firey Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, Maxine Waters (D-CA), has made her feelings on the necessity of impeachment public since long before the Mueller report was released but said that she would not actively organize outside activists to pressure Congress to move more quickly than leadership thinks is appropriate.
.@RepMaxineWaters: I can only tell you, I for one have been for impeachment for a long time. I'm going to continue to be for impeachment. I think #Trump should have been impeached a long time ago. The American people are waiting on us to provide the leadership. #AMJoy pic.twitter.com/ZAgTmkTcE2
— AM Joy w/Joy Reid (@amjoyshow) April 21, 2019
Another longtime advocate of impeachment, Representative Al Green (D-TX) reiterated his stance as one of the first legislators to call for Trump’s ouster with the reposting of a tweet from last year that he confirmed continues to represent his current views on the topic.
It's time for Congress to take a stand. I stand now where I stood on May 17, 2017 when I officially (on the congressional record) called for impeachment on the Floor of the Congress, after having unofficially called for it previously. Impeach Donald Trump.https://t.co/ZXsbJWK1te
— Congressman Al Green (@RepAlGreen) April 22, 2019
Bemoaning the President's harm to society and high misdeeds is not enough. Article 2, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution was created for a time such as this and a President such as Trump. It's past time to do more than talk. #ImpeachmentIsNotDead #Helsinki2018
— Congressman Al Green (@RepAlGreen) July 16, 2018
While the primary argument against beginning impeachment proceedings is the near certainty that there are not enough Republican defectors in the Senate to convict the president in a harshly partisan environment, many Democrats — including notably presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren —feel that the severity of President Trump’s misdeeds require impeachment simply to preserve the founding principles of our democracy in the face of Trump’s challenge to the rule of law and a compliant Justice Department that insists that a sitting president cannot be indicted.
The tides are shifting, but where the current will take us is still unknown. Impeach Trump now or wait until more evidence is available and political pollsters tell Democratic leadership that it’s safe to move forward? Let your elected representatives know where you stand on the question.
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Original reporting by Kyle Cheney, Heather Caygle, and Andrew Desiderio at Politico.