“We have climate change, we have prescription drugs,” said Robert Martin at the town hall, referring to the subjects he’d rather be talking about.
“I'm very concerned about climate change,” said Deb Martin.
In fact, of more than two dozen questions Wild fielded in the crowded town hall at Muhlenberg College, only two were about impeachment. That’s notable, given that Wild is a moderate Democrat who reluctantly supported an impeachment inquiry last week, acknowledging it might cost her politically. She represents a “purple” political district, Pennsylvania’s 7th, which has Democratic leanings but narrowly voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race.
“I didn’t come to Congress to pursue an impeachment inquiry,” she told the crowd, which was largely supportive of her decision to back one. “It was the last thing in the world I wanted. I said on the campaign trail it would be a two-year distraction, and I don’t want to see something that would take away from the work we need to do for working Americans. And here we are.”
Wild says the Trump administration left her no choice. She said last week that if the administration didn’t release the whistleblower complaint to Congress as it was supposed to, she’d support an inquiry. Then it was released, along with a rough transcript of Trump’s July call with the newly elected Ukrainian president, when Trump appears to pressure him to get dirt on his political opponent.
The call, she told reporters Wednesday before the town hall, "pretty clearly was an attempt to use the power of his office to try to gain a political advantage. And the surrounding facts remain to be seen.”
Now, Wild is more in line with the leaders of the impeachment inquiry than the last few holdouts within the Democratic caucus. The leaders have warned the Trump administration that any efforts to withhold documents would be considered an obstruction of their impeachment probe — and an impeachable offense in its own right. Wild agrees. “If the administration stonewalls us and refuses to produce things, I would consider that to be an obstruction of justice, and yes, I believe that would constitute additional grounds [for impeachment]," she said.
The crowd gathered to talk to her Wednesday didn’t seem to mind her stance. When someone cited polls that show a majority of Americans don’t support impeachment, a handful of people in the back yelled “Nooooo!” and “We do!” The town hall was being held in the most liberal part of her district, but Wild said she had spent the rest of the week traveling throughout the entire district, including its more rural parts, and impeachment was just not on people’s minds.
“So far in the district, I’ve heard absolutely nothing,” she told reporters. “Crickets.”
People want to talk about public education, climate change, prescription drug costs and manufacturing. Those were the bulk of questions addressed to her on Wednesday. Even Ken Thompson, who didn’t vote for her and opposes impeachment, didn’t ask about it when he got his turn at the microphone. He wanted to make a point about Hillary Clinton’s emails.
For Wild, that could be considered good news. She took a politically risky move, and so far it’s not blowing up in her face.
But it also means that the issues her constituents care about risk getting put on the back burner in the House. And that may be the most dangerous thing of all about the impeachment inquiry for her: An already difficult job to legislate in a divided government just got even harder.