Rep. Peter DeFazio voted “present” last week on an attempt to impeach President Trump, but that doesn’t mean he’s opposed to the idea.
The Oregon Democrat said the problem with last week’s vote was timing and methods, but if the right procedures were followed he and a number of other Democrats could well end up in the “Yes” column.
“If the Judiciary Committee asks for or moves an impeachment inquiry, I will support it,” he told reporters. “They’re not quite there. I assume after Mueller that might happen.”
Many Democrats are viewing former special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony to two House committees on Wednesday as the precursor to impeachment, hoping he’ll give them the evidence they need to prove misbehavior — and the sound bites to convince the rest of the country to buy in.
Yet with Democratic Party leaders reluctant to pursue impeachment, it’s tough to say how much support there is.
Rep. Al Green’s impeachment resolution last week was an early test.
It was tabled on a 332-95 vote.
But lawmakers said not to read too much into it.
Rep. Mike Levin, California Democrat, voted not to table. He said it’s not that he’s ready to impeach, but he thought the issue should have been referred to the House Judiciary Committee rather than killed.
“I believe that congressional investigations into obstruction of justice and other potential violations of the law by the president should continue, and I look forward to special counsel Mueller’s testimony,” he said in a statement to The Washington Times.
On the other side of the issue was Rep. Katie Porter, who supports starting an impeachment inquiry but voted to table Mr. Green’s resolution.
She said Mr. Green’s measure skipped steps such as starting a formal investigation of Mr. Trump’s alleged misconduct.
“An impeachment inquiry is a critical step toward building consensus as to whether the president committed ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’ The public deserves to see that evidence if it exists, and the Senate expects to review it before conducting a trial,” Ms. Porter tweeted.
Mr. Green’s resolution called for Mr. Trump to be impeached over allegations of racism. It said the president’s actions brought his office into “contempt, ridicule, disgrace and disrepute.”
A number of Democrats say Mr. Trump’s real jeopardy comes from his behavior in office, and particularly his efforts to try to thwart the probe into Russia’s behavior during the 2016 election.
Mr. DeFazio, the lone lawmaker to vote “present” last week, said Mr. Green’s resolution should have been referred to the Judiciary Committee, which handles impeachment matters, and added to the list of subjects the committee is examining.
“Because they’re already investigating, this could have been added to the pile of things,” he said.
Todd Belt, the director of the political management program at George Washington University, told The Washington Times last week’s vote was symbolic and “low stakes” for members.
“So they were free to vote in a way they thought was the most safe for their electoral prospects,” he said.
But he said 95 votes backing impeachment was not a good showing for the pro-impeachment camp.
“Ninety-five certainly benefits the president,” Mr. Belt said. “Because it looks like there’s little support for his impeachment. I’m sure if leadership had their way, this vote never would have happened and they wanted it to go away as quickly as possible because it makes the party look more radical than it is.”
Jeremy Mayer, an associate professor in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, said the vote proves House Speaker Nancy Pelosi still has a firm hold on her party.
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