More Democrats are now talking openly about impeachment
Democrats are starting to speak the I-word: Impeachment.
The impeachment talk has been brewing among the anti-Trump grassroots for months but, in Washington, it has been mostly relegated to Capitol Hill backrooms and podiums occupied by liberal firebrand Rep. Maxine Waters.
But Tuesday night, it ramped up significantly following a New York Times report that Trump had asked then-FBI Director James Comey to drop a federal investigation into former national security adviser Mike Flynn. Now more Democrats than ever are beginning to both publicly and privately float the idea of ousting President Donald Trump and moving Vice President Mike Pence into the Oval Office.
Sen. Angus King of Maine, an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday that, “with sadness and with reluctance,” impeachment is on the table. Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas said of the Times report: “if it is, in fact, true, then yes, that is an impeachable offense.” And Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, called the memo a “smoking gun” and did not rule out impeachment.
Former Senior Adviser to President Barack Obama David Axelrod, who has been critical of “party of no” Democrats, tweeted:
I've been resistant to impeachment talk until now, but if Comey memo is true-and Comey is very credible-we are into a whole new deal here.
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) May 16, 2017
Even Sen. John McCain of Arizona made allusions to impeachment, telling a Washington dinner crowd Tuesday night, “We’ve seen this movie before. It’s reaching Watergate size and scale.” McCain so far has been very outspoken against the president but has largely voted for his nominees and pieces of legislation. Any attempt to replace Trump would require 67 votes in the Senate, requiring significant Republican support.
A Public Policy Polling survey conducted before the latest revelation found that 48 percent of respondents support impeaching the president. That poll could be off, but it will likely further stoke the calls to throw out the President even as many senior Democrats has thus far resisted such calls.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told CNN Monday night that she didn’t yet “subscribe” to calls for impeachment. “What are the facts that you would make a case on? What are the rules that he may have violated? If you don’t have that case, you’re just participating in more hearsay,” she said.
The total number of Democratic lawmakers floating impeachment remains small but could grow if impeachment becomes a purity test in next year’s 2018 elections. With powerful and angry progressive activists demanding their representatives oust the president, many Democrats in congress may feel compelled to also call for impeachment if for no other reason than to avoid a primary challenge in 2018.
But there are hazards for Democrats in making this an issue. There are reasons to believe, for example, that impeachment would not be as strong an issue for Democrats as if they focused on the unpopular Trumpcare health bill which is polling in the 20’s and 30’s and now moving through the Senate.
And Dan Pfeiffer, a former top Obama aide, pointed out that Republicans could end up actually benefiting from impeachment:
If I was a Republican up for reelection and staring down the barrel of another 18 months of this, impeachment wouldn't sound so bad to me
— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) May 16, 2017