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On The Hill

A TIPPING POINT: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may not be able to hold off the pressure to launch an impeachment inquiry into President Trump for much longer. 

Critical milestone: As of this morning, there were 117 House Democrats who said they'd support at least a formal impeachment inquiry. That's just one member shy of a majority of the 235-member caucus.  

  • More than 20 lawmakers jumped on board after testimony by former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who confirmed the president could be charged with obstruction of justice after he leaves office. 
  • Here's the full list, which includes 16 of 24 Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, where impeachment proceedings would begin.
  • Not just Mueller: Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, acknowledged in a Kansas City Star interview that Trump's attacks on Rep. Elijah Cummings and Baltimore may have contributed to his decision to support an inquiry. 

With pressure from 2020 candidates, activists and the party's left flank — and some defections from senior lieutenants — Pelosi's cautious approach will be tested. 

Threading the needle: "Interviews with eight of the lawmakers who have publicly backed an impeachment inquiry over the past week showed they are eager to speak out against Trump but loath to breathe hellfire on the party leadership — suggesting the surge of support may not have much immediate impact on Pelosi’s thinking,” our colleagues Mike DeBonis and Felicia Sonmez write

  • Instead: "Democrats have largely cast their announcements as intensely personal decisions that were the product of careful deliberation and close review of Mueller’s report and his testimony. Many said they did not want their decisions to be interpreted as criticism of Pelosi or Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), whose panel would lead an impeachment, and none called for an interruption of the six-week recess now to return to Washington to launch a formal probe.”
  • Advice they took to heart: While Pelosi has publicly pointed to the ongoing investigations and court fights to hold the president accountable, she effectively gave the go-ahead last week for lawmakers to make their own decisions, saying: "I'm willing to take whatever heat there is.”

The primary factor: Recent impeachment converts include committee chairs Eliot L. Engel of Foreign Affairs and Nita M. Lowey of Appropriations. The two New York lawmakers both face Democratic opponents in the 2020 elections. 

  • Engel's primary challenger is pleased: “We weren’t the only pressure, but we were part of the pressure,” Jamaal Bowman, a Bronx middle school principal challenging Engel with the backing of the left-wing Justice Democrats, told Mike and Felicia. 
  • But not satisfied: “A statement is not enough. He has to continue to push the conversation to Nancy Pelosi, Jerry Nadler and others to make sure that the impeachment process begins in earnest. We are late on this.”

The recess factor: We might see more members switch camps as liberal groups and activists ramp up their efforts during August recess. 

  • "#ImpeachmentAugust”: Four national progressive groups — Indivisible, MoveOn, Need to Impeach, and Stand Up America — have joined forces to target members of House leadership and the Judiciary committee who haven't already called for an impeachment inquiry, BuzzFeed News's Abby Baird reported yesterday. 
  • “As part of the campaign, the coalition has launched a website called Impeachment August, which leaders say they hope will give people in districts across the country the tools to organize events of their own, including visits to congressional offices and approaching members in public.” 

Reality check: “There are still dozens of prominent Democrats who are urging caution, including many moderate House lawmakers representing some of the 31 districts that Trump won in 2016,” Mike and Felicia write. “Several said after Mueller’s testimony last week, largely devoid of new revelations, ought to have ended any notion of impeachment.” 

  • Public opinion isn't there yet: “A Post-ABC News poll released earlier this month showed that 59 percent of Americans believe the House should not begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, while 37 percent believe it should — including 61 percent of Democrats.”

The political risks: While Reps. Jennifer Wexton (Va.), Mike Levin (Calif.), and Jason Crow (Colo.), were among several freshman who unseated Republicans last year to join the pro-impeachment camp post-Mueller testimony, the GOP is ready and waiting:

  • “When Representative Kim Schrier of Washington, who narrowly flipped a Republican seat in 2018, announced her support this week for an inquiry, the House Republican Conference’s campaign arm denounced her as a 'deranged socialist' who was 'so blinded by her hatred of President Trump that she is perpetuating impeachment conspiracy theories instead of working for her constituents,'" per the New York Times's Nicholas Fandos.
The People

HAVE YOU HURD?: “Rep. Will Hurd, the lone black Republican in the House and the rare GOP lawmaker to at times criticize President Trump, will not seek reelection, he told The Washington Post,” scooped our colleague Robert Moore

  • This is a big deal: “This is almost as big as [Paul] Ryan retiring announcement last year,” our colleague Paul Kane tweeted. “He is — no, was — the future of GOP,” Paul added. 
  • “Absolute gut punch to House GOP”: That's how our colleague Mike DeBonis put it. “Hard to overstate how much GOP leaders sought to elevate Hurd, protect him and make him the future of the caucus. Not just as the now-only black House [Republican], but as a former CIA operative interested in tech policy and expanding the party's appeal.”

The diversity trend line for Republicans is not great: After Hurd, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) would be the only black Republican left in Congress. 

    In his own words: Hurd told Robert that he thinks he can help the country “in a different way.” 

    “I’m interested in pursuing my lifelong passions at that intersection of technology and national security,” he said. “And I think I have an opportunity to help make sure the Republican Party looks like America. More from Hurd's interview: 

    • On Trump's racist tweets about the Squad: ''When you imply that because someone doesn’t look like you, in telling them to go back to Africa or wherever, you’re implying that they’re not an American and you’re implying that they have less worth than you.'”
    • On how Republicans can appeal to communities of color: “Number one, show up to communities that haven’t seen Republicans show up. And listen. And then the message that you take is how we have solved some problems in our communities. When you look at African American unemployment, Latino unemployment, it’s an all-time low.”
    • On Texas turning purple 🚨: “[Hurd] said Democrats have a chance to carry Texas in the 2020 presidential election,” Robert writes. From Hurd: “When you look at trends, the two-largest growing groups of voters are Latinos and young people. And we know what the broader trends are happening there.” 

    Trump record: Hurd, more than any other House member, was a frequent critic of Trump's border wall, Robert writes. “He opposed Trump’s national emergency declaration to divert funds to border wall construction and was one of only 14 Republicans to vote to override the president’s veto of a bill that sought to block the national emergency. And then there's this: 

    Impact on the seat: "Hurd’s retirement is the third by a Texas Republican in the past week and the ninth by a party incumbent, dealing a blow to GOP efforts to regain control of the House in next year’s election," Robert notes.

    Global Power

    THOUSANDS OF TROOPS COULD LEAVE AFGHANISTAN: “The Trump administration is preparing to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan in exchange for concessions from the Taliban, including a cease-fire and a renunciation of al-Qaeda, as part of an initial deal to end the nearly 18-year-old war, U.S. officials say,” our colleagues Dan Lamothe, John Hudson and Pamela Constable report.

    • What an agreement would look like: “The agreement, which would require the Taliban to begin negotiating a larger peace deal directly with the Afghan government, could cut the number of American troops in the country from roughly 14,000 to between 8,000 and 9,000, the officials said,” they write. “That number would be nearly the same as when President Trump took office.”
    • Where things are at right now: "'I would say that they are 80 or 90 percent of the way there,” said one official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of the emerging deal. 'But there is still a long way to go on that last 10 or 20 percent.'”
    The Policies

    TRUMP RATCHETS UP HIS TRADE WAR: “Trump unexpectedly announced on Thursday that he will impose new tariffs on $300 billion worth of imports from China, effectively taxing every product that Americans buy from China,” our colleagues David J. Lynch, Heather Long and Damian Paletta report. 

    • The odd timing: “Trump’s outburst stood in contrast to a White House statement one day earlier that labeled this week’s talks ‘constructive,’ announced plans for discussions in Washington next month and said China had ‘confirmed their commitment to increase purchases’ of American farm products,” they write.

    But nine out of 10 Trump counties get subsidies to fight the trade war: “The politics here aren’t complicated,” our colleague Philip Bump writes of new data that shows just where the $16 billion in aid is going. “Farmers are almost exclusively in rural counties, places that Trump won handily in 2016. Letting farmers suffer from his trade war simply wasn’t an option for Trump.” 

    The charts below break down the Trump-voting and Hillary Clinton-voting counties that received subsidies under the market facilitation program. 

    • Philip notes: “There are far more Trump counties in the United States than counties that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. That many of them aren’t very populous is why Clinton won the popular vote by 2.9 million votes. In looking at the distribution of the counties and the amount each received based on how the counties voted, though, the difference is stark.”
    In the Media