Judiciary Democrats wage silent campaign to move Pelosi on impeachment one member at a time
Ever since last week when Donald Trump invited foreign adversaries to hack U.S. elections, at least 15 more House Democrats have announced their support for starting an impeachment inquiry into him. The list includes three swing-district members, two committee chairs, and four members from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home state, California.
While that represents real movement, there’s also plenty more members were that came from. “There may be only 72 [pro-impeachment Democrats] in public, but there are 200 in private,” a Democratic aide told Politico. “But they’re holding back out of deference for Pelosi.”
If that aide is right, expect to see more members break with Pelosi over the coming weeks. There’s power in numbers. And some of the members who came out this week have opened the door for other Democrats by changing their political calculation. If a swing-district star of the freshman class like California Rep. Katie Porter can put her seat on the line to uphold her sworn oath, then why can’t others? No politician wants to look like they are placing political expediency over their oath of office—a concern with which they will now have to contend as more members point to “duty” as the impetus for their change of heart.
Another notable convert this week was veteran lawmaker and Pelosi ally Rep. Jan Schakowski of Illinois. Schakowski threaded the needle of parting with Pelosi by praising Democratic leadership for doing a “good job” but saying she had simply come to a “personal decision.” In the wake of Trump’s comments welcoming illegal foreign interference, Schakowski explained, “I feel an obligation now to take my belief that Donald Trump has to be held accountable—that no one is above the law—to the next step.
The steadily growing impeachment caucus is, at least in part, an outgrowth of efforts by several key members of the Judiciary Committee. Behind the scenes, Reps. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Joe Neguse of Colorado and Pramila Jayapal of Washington state have been serving as informal advisers to their peers on impeachment.
“There’s a group of us who are on Judiciary who are deeply ensconced in everything,” one of the lawmakers told Politico. “We’re not whipping, but we’re just talking to people about what we’re seeing and why it’s important. People who are on committees of jurisdiction have a lot more information, so people are coming to us to ask us what’s going on and we’re sharing our views.”