A majority of House Democrats now publicly support taking the first step toward impeachment of President Trump, after several members announced their support Friday for an impeachment inquiry.
Crossing the threshold of a majority doesn’t trigger any immediate action, but it is a signal that Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reluctance is now a minority position within her own caucus.
Rep. Salud Carbajal, a California Democrat, was one of those voicing his support Friday for beginning the process, saying special counsel Robert Mueller’s recounting of Mr. Trump’s behavior during and after the 2016 campaign has convinced him the president should face punishment.
“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,” the congressman said in a statement. “That is why I believe it is time to open an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.”
An impeachment inquiry would involve the House officially beginning an investigation with the intention of gathering evidence to see if articles of impeachment should be brought.
Some Democrats would like to skip the inquiry and move straight to impeachment, figuring Mr. Mueller’s report already provides enough evidence.
Mrs. Pelosi, meanwhile, has expressed reluctance to move ahead without a more concrete case to present to voters. She fears Democrats’ policy agenda will be swamped by investigations.
Besides, she points out, while the House brings articles of impeachment, the GOP-controlled Senate holds a trial on them, and it takes a two-thirds vote in that chamber to oust the president.
The House adjourned last week for a six-week summer vacation, but not before Mrs. Pelosi and other top Democrats said they wanted to focus more on legislating.
“Unfortunately, I think with all the talk about impeachment and all these other outside issues took away from things we’ve actually passed,” Rep. Mark Pocan, a vocal advocate for starting an impeachment inquiry, told reporters last week.
He spoke after Mr. Mueller’s testimony to two House committees, presenting his report findings. Mr. Mueller said his investigation did not exonerate the president, but he did not add anything new to the public knowledge of Mr. Trump’s behavior.
Polling shows the public was unmoved by the testimony, but Democratic lawmakers apparently were. In the little more than a week since Mr. Mueller’s appearance, at least 28 more Democrats have come out in favor of the idea of an impeachment inquiry.
Democratic activists have vowed to keep the pressure up in August.
Four groups — Indivisible, MoveOn, Need to Impeach and Stand Up America — launched a website they said will allow impeachment supporters to plan their own events or to connect them with protests already planned.
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