‘Impeachment August’ Campaign Falls Short of Goals with Month Halfway Over

A woman holds a sign expressing her opinion about impeaching President Donald Trump at a rally organized by Women's March NYC at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Progressive groups were hoping to make this month “Impeachment August,” but with only 12 days to go, they are falling short of their self-stated goals.

Twelve progressive groups joined together to launch a campaign on August 1 with a goal to pressure House Democrats to come out in support of President Trump’s impeachment. While the American public remains deeply divided on impeachment, Democrats overwhelmingly support it.

The groups had planned to pressure their representatives at town halls and other public appearances after they returned to their districts for the August recess, in hopes of getting them to back impeachment if they had not done so already.

They launched a website where constituents can see where their representative is appearing next, so that they could go and press them on the issue, and bring along pre-written talking points.

“This August, we’ll show up to town halls & district offices to tell our members of Congress to do their jobs and open a formal impeachment inquiry now,” their website says.

The groups launched their campaign, along with the hashtag #ImpeachmentAugust on August 1:

The groups include: Indivisible, Need to Impeach, Move On, Stand Up America, #MarchForTruth, By the People, Common Cause, Free Speech People, Democracy for America, Progressive Democrats of America, Credo, democrats.com.

However, since they launched their campaign on August 1, only nine Democrats have joined the call to impeach President Trump.

One of the campaign’s top goals is to get freshman in swing districts to support impeachment, according to the Washington Post and BuzzFeed.

However — according to the Post, the campaign has have failed to convince any vulnerable Democrat freshman or any vulnerable Democrat to back impeachment. The Post reported on August 15:

The focus of ‘Impeachment August’ is on the minority of House Democrats who have not endorsed impeachment proceedings yet, with a particular goal of getting the freshmen elected in swing districts to take a firm position. So far, no swing-seat Democrat who was skeptical about impeachment before the start of the recess has been converted.

Despite pressure at recent town halls on Democrat freshmen Rep. Andy Kim (NJ) and Antonio Delgado (NY) — top Republican targets, they have avoided saying they would support impeachment, according to the Post.

The New York Times reported that Democrat freshmen Reps. Kim Schrier (WA), Jason Crow (CO), and Jennifer Wexton (VA) have come out in favor of impeachment in the days before August 1, but their seats are rated “likely” Democrat, according to the Cook Political Report. Kim and Delgado’s are rated as “toss ups.”

The Impeachment August campaign also hopes to convince House leadership and Judiciary Committee members who do not yet support impeachment.

But so far, it has convinced only one House leader, Assistant House Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), and he is planning to leave the House to run for the Senate in 2020. The impact he may have on wary Democrat freshmen he helped recruit is unclear.

According to NPR, Luján is the only one of six top Democrat leaders who supports impeachment. In addition, only two of six key committee chairs have backed impeachment, none during the August break.

NPR noted that out of the dozens of Democrats who back impeachment, almost all share two important qualities: “Their seats are safe in 2020, and they are not members of the House Democratic leadership team.”

As far as Judiciary Committee members, 21 of 24 Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are needed to refer articles of impeachment to the House floor. So far, only 16 have come out in support of impeachment, according to Axios.

There has also been some confusion over whether House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) supports impeachment. According to NPR and Axios‘ whiplists, he does not. But according to Politico‘s and the Hill‘s whiplist, he does.

Part of that confusion stems from his move to open what he is calling “formal impeachment proceedings.” Nadler last month announced his committee was launching an investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice and should be impeached.

He has insisted that his investigation constitutes a formal impeachment inquiry, although historically that begins with a full House vote, which has not happened.

Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, called the idea there is a formal impeachment inquiry “misinformation”:

Some Democrat pundits have expressed frustration and confusion over whether there is an actual impeachment inquiry or not, as well as impatience that the House is not doing enough.

Crooked Media Editor in Chief Brian Beutler tweeted recently: “It says…something…about the approach Nadler and Pelosi have taken that members joining the impeachment push don’t betray any awareness in their statements that an impeachment inquiry is supposedly already underway.”

New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow tweeted sarcastically: “Yea, that’s what I want: a secret impeachment inquiry that no one talks about.”

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Executive Director Noah Bookbinder argued in a recent op-ed in USA Today that the House should “consolidate and explicitly define the impeachment inquiry that is already under way.”

The Impeachment August campaign also aims to connect with “every member of Congress, including Republicans,” but so far, zero Republicans back impeachment.

Still, members of the campaign are planning plenty of events for the rest of August, such as weekly rallies outside of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA)’s office in California:

They have gotten some celebrity support:

But the most important decider on the impeachment issue is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)’s, and she has staunchly opposed launching an impeachment inquiry unless Americans are on board.

Politico/Morning Consult poll taken after Mueller’s testimony on July 24 show that only 37% of voters say Congress should begin impeachment proceedings. Pelosi has also urged Democrats to spend their time back home talking about their agenda, versus impeachment.

House members are due back in session on September 9.

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