‘Impeachment August’ Ends with a Whimper for Progressive Groups

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., gives his opening statement as former special counsel Robert Mueller testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on his report on Russian election interference, on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, July 24, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

“Impeachment August” is officially over, but with progressive groups reaching few of the goals they hoped to reach towards the impeachment of President Trump.

Twelve groups had banded together in hopes of convincing lawmakers — particularly from swing districts — to back the impeachment of Trump during the August break, when members of Congress were back home and in front of constituents.

However, during August, only one Democrat from a district rated a “toss up” by the Cook Political Report came out in favor of impeachment — Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL), from Illinois’ 14th district.

Just weeks ago, she was against impeachment. However, on August 20, after a town hall, she put out a statement saying she would back impeachment.

She is facing five Republicans challengers, including one who has already hit her on her impeachment stance.

But so far, other vulnerable Democrats managed to avoid coming out for impeachment, which is unpopular with the majority of Americans. A recent Monmouth University Polling Institute poll said 59% of Americans opposed impeachment — the highest number since it began tracking the issue in July 2017.

However, there was some progress for those who support impeachment over the recess, which still has a week to go. More than 30 Democrats came out for impeachment after lawmakers left for recess on July 26, bringing up the total to at least 133 Democrats who back impeachment and constituting a majority of the Democrat caucus.

However, they are still 84 short of reaching a majority in the House, with the holdouts being moderate Democrats or those most vulnerable. Others are simply backing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) preference to wait until the public backs impeachment or the myriad investigations under way into the Trump administration turn up something incriminating.

However, the calendar for the rest of the year is tight, with the fiscal year 2020 budget being a top priority and 2020 elections being right around the corner. Pelosi has also warned about focusing too much on impeachment and not about issues Democrat voters care most about.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), an ally of Pelosi’s, sought to take pressure off moderate Democrats while also appearing to do something about on impeachment by launching an investigation he describes as “formal impeachment proceedings.”

Underwood has said she supported Nadler’s investigation versus Trump’s immediate impeachment, but the nuance appears to be lost, as most media outlets consider those who support his investigation to be supporting impeachment.

Underwood’s Republican challengers include state Sens. Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove, Sue Rezin of Morris, James Marter of Oswego, Ted Gradel of Naperville, and Danny Malouf of Woodstock, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Gradel responded to Underwood’s support of the impeachment inquiry by comparing it to her opposition to it just weeks ago as a “power grab.”

“Once again Underwood has sided with the extreme wing of her party at the expense of her constituents here in Illinois,” he said.

“I’ll go to Congress not to play political games like this, but to keep the economy growing and to fight for real solutions on the issues that are affecting Illinois families,” he added.

Underwood is a top National Republican Congressional Committee target for the 2020.

This story has been updated.

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