Nearly 60 House Democrats think Congress should open impeachment proceedings against President Trump. That sounds like a lot, but it’s only a quarter of all House Democrats. The Fix counts more than 100 House Democrats who haven’t said where they stand.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has refused to entertain the idea because she’s concerned it would endanger Democrats’ chances of keeping the House majority in 2020 and winning the White House.
Caught in the middle are House Democratic leaders. These are Pelosi’s allies, but some are sounding more and more like they support impeachment proceedings. Here are five lawmakers in this group to watch to get a sense of whether impeachment is on the horizon.
1. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.)
He is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which is where impeachment proceedings would start. He has said that until public opinion supports impeachment, Congress shouldn’t do it. But The Washington Post has reported that privately, he has urged Pelosi to let his committee open up an inquiry into whether Trump should be impeached. He said Friday that there “certainly is” justification for beginning impeachment proceedings, his strongest language on the subject.
2. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.)
He chairs another powerful committee, House Oversight. It has launched several high-profile investigations into Trump, exploring questions such as: Did Trump obstruct justice? Did he illegally inflate his net worth? Did he lie about getting his son-in-law a security clearance? So if Cummings decides impeachment proceedings take precedence over all that, it’s a big deal. He has not publicly supported impeachment.
3. Cheri Bustos (Ill.)
She’s in charge of the House Democrats’ campaign arm, which means Bustos is entirely focused on the 20 or so new House Democrats who could lose reelection next year. They are from states such as Kansas and Iowa, in districts that voted for Trump for president, and they are not calling for impeachment. (Most of the lawmakers who are calling for impeachment represent heavily liberal districts.)
Bustos seems to see it as her job to remind the coastal Democrats in her party that in the middle of the country, impeachment seems more like a distraction than a moral imperative. Next to Pelosi, she’s the staunchest anti-impeachment Democrat in the House. If she budges, then impeachment could be right around the corner.
4. James E. Clyburn (S.C.)
Clyburn is on our list for two reasons: (1) As the House majority whip, he’s the No. 3 House Democrat; (2) and he has wavered on impeachment this week.
In an interview Sunday on CNN, when asked if he thinks impeachment is inevitable, Clyburn answered: “That’s exactly what I feel.” But after meeting with Pelosi on Monday night, when asked if he thought impeachment was inevitable, he said no. “I’m probably father away from impeachment than anybody in our caucus,” he said.
What are his true feelings, and how could they sway the rest of House Democrats?
5. Katie Hill (Calif.)
Much like Bustos, Hill is a voice for more moderate Democrats. Elected in 2018, she represents the party’s newest members as a freshman class representative for the Democratic Caucus.
Like many freshmen lawmakers, she knocked off a Republican to win her seat. She represents new lawmakers such as Rep. Lucy McBath (Ga.) and Rep. Abby Finkenauer (Iowa), who both won in districts that voted for Trump in 2016 and are top Republican targets for 2020.
Unlike Bustos, Hill has showed some openness to impeachment proceedings. She told Politico on Monday: “I would say it may be” inevitable. “I wouldn’t say definitely. But I definitely think that there’s a good chance.”
And some freshmen Democrats are also leading impeachment voices, notably Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.).