After weeks of investigating the whistleblower complaint at the heart of this and not getting more information, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) is seriously considering supporting the impeachment inquiry of Trump already going on in the House. He’s just out of options, he seemed to say. “That may be the only remedy that is coequal to the evil that conduct represents,” Schiff told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sounds more open to it.
Here’s what she wrote members of Congress in a letter this weekend, my emphasis added: “If the administration persists in blocking this whistleblower from disclosing to Congress a serious possible breach of constitutional duties by the president, they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation.”
The House’s Judiciary committee is already conducting an impeachment inquiry (the first step to drawing up articles of impeachment). But Pelosi has refused to publicly acknowledge how official that investigation has become and has refused to publicly describe it for what it is, an “impeachment inquiry.”
It sounds like she’s willing to go there soon if the Trump administration doesn’t let the intelligence community inspector general share what he knows with the House and Senate intelligence committees. Having Pelosi’s support for the ongoing impeachment inquiry, rather than arguing about whether it exists, could help focus the sometimes messy process.
The pro-impeachment camp is ramped up even more.
As impeachment skeptics within the House Democratic caucus are starting to reconsider their stance, the Democrats who support an impeachment inquiry (or even outright impeachment of Trump) are getting louder.
This group has been putting pressure on Pelosi since Democrats won back the House majority last year. Judging by their comments over the weekend, expect this caucus to get even more urgent. Here’s a sampling.
“We have said the president must be held accountable, and ‘no one is above the law,’ including the president of the United States,” Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) told The Post’s Rachael Bade and Josh Dawsey. “We have to not only say that; our actions have to reflect that.”
Even though a majority of House Democrats support an impeachment inquiry, it’s not clear they have the votes among themselves to actually impeach Trump. The stronger the pro-impeachment-inquiry crowd is, the more sway they will have over the whole caucus.
The Republicans who aren’t spinning for Trump are “troubled”
Per usual during a Trump-centered scandal, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) is one of the only Republican lawmakers offering a modicum of criticism.
Romney tweeted Sunday: “If the President asked or pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rival, either directly or through his personal attorney, it would be troubling in the extreme. Critical for the facts to come out.”
And Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) declined to directly criticize Trump, but he did talk about it in the abstract this way: “It is not appropriate for any candidate for federal office, certainly, including a sitting president, to ask for assistance from a foreign country. That’s not appropriate. But I don’t know that that’s what happened here.”
What Republicans aren’t publicly acknowledging is that an inspector general, who is an independent watchdog for a government agency and has no known reason to be partisan, found the allegation about a sitting president both credible and “urgent” and told Congress his conclusion did not come from just one conversation.
And, perhaps most damaging of all for Republicans is that Trump acknowledged this weekend he may have spoken about Biden with the president of Ukraine, though he maintains he did nothing wrong in his conversation.
We are not saying we expect the Republican-controlled Senate to hold a trial and kick Trump out of office. But one missing piece of impeachment is that a majority of Americans, including a majority of independents, don’t support it. If more Republicans were open about their concerns about what Trump is alleged to have done, the House will feel it has a much stronger case for impeachment.