Steny Hoyer Under Fire from Left After Saying an Impeachment Inquiry Is Not Underway

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Md., left, accompanied by Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., right, speaks at a news conference calling for Senate action on H.R. 8 - Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) is taking fire from the left after saying on Wednesday that an impeachment inquiry is not underway.

“No,” he responded when asked by reporters whether there was such an inquiry underway, according to C-SPAN and other outlets.

Hoyer’s response undercut claims by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and other Democrats that an impeachment inquiry is indeed being conducted.

Nadler announced after former special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony in July that his committee would launch an investigation into whether the president obstructed justice and should be impeached.

The next month he claimed the investigation was “formal impeachment proceedings.” Democrats have pointed to the committee’s court filings that argue the committee is seeking witness testimony and documents because it is part of an impeachment inquiry.

Hoyer later tried to walk back his remarks in a statement, saying he thought the question was about whether the full House was at that time considering articles of impeachment and saying he supported Nadler’s investigation.

Former Obama administration official Jon Favreau had tweeted that Hoyer’s first comments were “politically dumb and dishonest.”

However, not all Democrat activists have been convinced that there is an impeachment inquiry underway, and have demanded that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) schedule a vote on impeachment.

Pelosi has opposed the full House taking a vote on impeachment, with impeachment being politically unpopular with most Americans, according to polls. She is also trying to protect the Democrat majority in the House by preventing moderate Democrats in swing states and districts from taking a position.

Nadler’s announcement of the so-called impeachment inquiry without a vote allowed Democrats to make it appear they were acting on the issue.

However, historically, an impeachment inquiry has begun with a full vote in the House. The House Judiciary Committee then would draft articles of impeachment for another full vote by the House. So far, the full House has not taken a vote on the matter.

The last House vote on articles of impeachment failed to move forward in mid-July, after a majority of the House voted against voting on it by a 95–332 vote.

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