House Democrats in Conflict Over Trump Impeachment

While Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives set forth their vision for what they want to accomplish next year, impeachment of President Donald Trump does not seem to be on the agenda. However, many of their supporters and donors are not happy about that, and want the House to start impeachment proceedings shortly after taking control in January.

As they anticipate being in power, House Democrats have been discussing their plans to keep campaign promises on such programs as:

  1. Spending on public works projects,
  2. Lowering health care costs and
  3. Increasing government oversight.

Impeachment of Trump is “on the margins” according to those familiar with the thinking of Democratic leadership. They say that Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is trying to strike a balance next year between investigating Trump and moving their legislative agenda forward.

Vocal members of the Democrats’ left wing, however, are extremely eager to confront Trump and make him accountable. Pelosi’s political instincts, however, reportedly tell her that she needs to prioritize the “kitchen-table” promises that Democrats made to the voters who put them in control of the House.

Already Democratic leaders of House committees have discussed their plans for conducting oversight of the president’s business and White House dealings. But the goal is not to overwhelm the government with subpoenas and investigations. They say they want to take it one step at a time.

“We shouldn’t impeach the president for political reasons and we shouldn’t not impeach the president for political reasons,” Pelosi confusingly remarked to reporters. She left open the question of whether — and when — she might consider beginning the impeachment process.

Pelosi said that in her opinion impeachment is a “divisive activity” that must be approached with bipartisanship.

“If the case for impeachment is there, then that should be self-evident to both Democrats and Republicans,” the House Democratic leader said.

Nobody expects impeachment action immediately in the new Congress, but proponents definitely want to see Democrats begin to lay the groundwork for future impeachment proceedings.

“We’re for impeachment. We’re not for immediate impeachment on January 1,” said Kevin Mack, the leader of billionaire Tom Steyer’s “Need to Impeach” campaign. “Our argument is the Constitution outlines a process to remove a lawless president.”

Steyer, one of the largest donors to the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates, says they “just need the will” to act. He said six million people have already signed on to his group to “give Congress the courage to act.”

“The American people are tired of being told to wait,” Mack said. “Our argument to Congress is you are a co-equal branch of government. It’s time to do what is morally correct.”

Republicans, of course, are hoping that Democrats will be lead astray from their campaign promises and will try to impeach Trump rather than make deals with him.

But Pelosi has been very clear that Democrats in the House will not engage in what she calls a “scattershot approach” to investigating the Trump administration.

The incoming Democratic leaders of House committees will have a coordinated plan to conduct oversight of the president’s business and White House dealings. They also may consider taking steps to ensure that special counsel Robert Mueller is allowed to complete his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Democrats in both the House and Senate want to add legislation to protect the Mueller probe to the spending bill that must be approved in December to fund the U.S. government. Another agenda item they have is to make Mueller’s findings public once he issues his final report.

One powerful House Democrat, Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, who will chair the House Judiciary Committee, said recently:

“You have to be very reluctant to do an impeachment because of the trauma of an impeachment process.”

It appears that Nadler, Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders will not want to impeach Trump immediately, but they seem very committed to holding Trump accountable and are likely to begin committee investigations as soon as they take power in the new year.

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