impeachment watch
September 26, 2019

The whistleblower complaint that sparked President Trump's Ukraine scandal has been declassified and lightly redacted, though it apparently won't be released to the public until at least Thursday morning, when acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testifies before the House. But congressional leaders and members of the intelligence committees were allowed to read the classified version late Wednesday, and the consensus, at least from Democrats and a few Republicans, is that the complaint is credible, detailed, and more troubling than the log of Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy released Wednesday morning.

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) called the complaint from the unidentified intelligence officer "deeply disturbing," said it "exposed serious wrongdoing," and "certainly provides information for the committee to follow up with others." Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he was "more worried" after reading the complaint, and "there are huge numbers of facts crying out for investigation."

On MSNBC Wednesday night, a "stunned" Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) described the complaint "as nothing short of explosive. It is so much more than the summary of the telephone call that has been presented by the White House as evidence."

But some Republicans who read the complaint were disquieted, too. "Republicans ought not to be rushing to circle the wagons and say there's no 'there there' when there's obviously a lot that's very troubling there," said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), adding that "Democrats ought not be using words like 'impeach' before they knew anything about the actual substance."

A GOP congressional source with direct knowledge of the whistleblower complaint told conservative commentator Erik Erickson that it "paints a clear path to impeachment," Erickson writes at The Resurgent. "I wasn't happy with the transcript, but it was Trump. What do you expect? Now we are dealing with something that looks like it could be outside the bounds of acceptable conduct." The whistleblower, the source added, is "someone who does not like the president," but "regardless, the whistleblower is credible." Peter Weber

September 23, 2019

It looks like the tables have turned for some House Democrats when it comes to impeaching President Trump, even if they still won't say so publicly.

The New York Times reports that a group of moderate freshman lawmakers, who have previously opposed launching an impeachment inquiry, said they were considering changing course after Trump confirmed he raised corruption accusations against former Vice President Joe Biden in a July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. While they told the Times they would be closely watching Thursday's hearing with acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, the lawmakers were reportedly still not entirely comfortable with the idea of going public with their opinions and would rather see a transcript of the call first.

It's not just politicians who are reconsidering, either. James Carville, a longtime Democratic strategist, had also opposed impeachment, but he now reportedly thinks that upon obtaining a transcript of Trump's call, the House should move "quick and clean" on an inquiry. "Let the Senate Republicans stew," Carville said.

Ultimately, the Times notes, the whole thing could depend on Democrats from districts that Trump won or nearly lost in 2016. Once a transcript comes out, Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) said, even those tenuous situations shouldn't matter anymore. "I don't see how they can fight it any longer," Titus said. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

September 10, 2019

The House Judiciary Committee will vote Thursday on new procedures designed to expedite an ongoing investigation that could result in articles of impeachment being filed against President Trump. Thursday's resolution, if passed, will allow Chairman Jarrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) to designate special impeachment-repeated hearings in which committee lawyers can question witnesses for an extra hour, the committee could accept secret evidence in closed-doors hearings, and Trump and the White House can respond to the evidence in writing.

"The procedures change has precedent from previous impeachment probes and will more clearly define where the committee stands on its investigation," NPR News reports. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is still publicly opposed to impeachment, arguing that the public isn't there yet, but aides say she support's Nadler's de facto impeachment inquiry. Judiciary Committee Democrats, meanwhile, are shifting the focus of their investigation from just obstruction of justice, as outlined in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, to corruption more generally.

"There are so many things to look at," committee member Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.) told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Monday night. "Personally, I have been trying to focus on the things that were outlined by the authors of our Constitution, and it was things like misuse of pardons, bribery or corruption in an election, being under the sway of a foreign government, profiting off your public position."

"People generally understand the kind of corruption he's being accused of now better than they do arcane terms like obstruction of justice," Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) told Politico. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) agreed: "People understand what it means for the president to be spending millions of dollars in federal government tax dollars at his own business properties." Peter Weber

August 1, 2019

It's official: more than half of House Democrats are in favor of opening an impeachment inquiry.

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) on Thursday became the latest Democratic lawmaker to come out in favor of launching impeachment proceedings against President Trump, doing so by way of an op-ed in the Sun-Sentinel. By Politico's count, this means 118 of 235 voting Democratic members in the House now support this move that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has resisted. Pelosi in recent months has cautioned that were Democrats to pursue impeachment at the moment, Trump would simply be acquitted in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Deutch, Politico notes, is the 23rd Democrat to come out in favor of an impeachment inquiry since Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified before Congress about his report into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which did not establish a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia and did not make a determination about whether Trump obstructed justice while laying out instances of potential obstruction and concluding that the Trump campaign welcomed Russia's interference.

Some outlets' impeachment count differs from Politico's, which reporter Kyle Cheney explains is because "we included in ours everyone who confirmed — either to us or in statements — that they would vote for an inquiry. Some members were explicit with us but haven't been public about it otherwise."

In his op-ed, Deutch argues that an impeachment inquiry is effectively already taking place in the House. "Sorry, Mr. President, the question is no longer whether the House should vote to proceed with a formal impeachment inquiry," he writes. "The inquiry has already begun."

This comes after House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) made a similar point last week; when asked if the committee's current investigation into the president is effectively the same thing as an impeachment inquiry, Nadler said, "in effect." Brendan Morrow

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