Although Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leaders in the House Democratic Caucus are still hesitant to get on board with impeaching Donald Trump, we’re seeing an increasingly large number of members who’ve announced their support of the efforts. The latest official to join the ranks of supporters is Rep. Jennifer Wexton (VA-10) who released a statement yesterday calling upon the House of Representatives to start impeachment proceedings. The announcement comes after she’d been hesitant to get behind the efforts even though many Democrats in her district hoped she would do so much earlier in her tenure.
“After much deliberation, I believe the time has come for the House of Representatives to assert our constitutional responsibility and begin an impeachment inquiry,” Wexton said. “As a former prosecutor, it is clear to me given the conduct by the president detailed in the Mueller Report and Director Mueller’s recent testimony before Congress that–were he not a sitting president–Donald Trump would be indicted on charges for obstruction of justice.”
As recently as the beginning of June, Wexton wasn’t willing to fully join the growing chorus of people calling for impeachment. At a town hall she held at Shenandoah University, the Congresswoman said “everything is on the table and that includes impeachment,” but refused to fully come out in support of impeachment. She went on to reference “investigations going on in multiple committees” and stressed how she wanted to hear what those turned up before making a decision.
She appears to have stayed true to those remarks and Robert Mueller’s testimony before Congress last week seems to be the final straw for Wexton. Developments like this might be why many Democrats insisted on Mueller testifying before Congress despite his desire to stay out of the public eye. While his detailed report made it clear Trump’s behavior was extremely questionable, the testimony he provided lent even more credence to the concern over Trump’s obstruction of the investigation.
It’s worth noting that Wexton’s announcement comes on the same day President Trump was in Virginia celebrating the 400th anniversary of representative government meeting in Virginia. While many Democrats were boycotting the event, Wexton was in Jamestown for the commemoration but wore white to protest the president’s presence. This wasn’t lost on her and she referenced the anniversary in her statement about the decision.
“On this day, the 400th anniversary of representative democracy in Virginia, we are reminded of the struggle and sacrifice of countless Americans to fight for and uphold a system of government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” the Congresswoman said. “President Trump’s actions have repeatedly proven antithetical to these values–through his efforts to undermine our democratic institutions, his flagrant disregard of lawful congressional oversight, and his normalizing of authoritarian tactics. I cannot sit idly by while the pillars of our democracy are chipped away.”
While the outcome of Congressional investigations might be able to convince people like Wexton who were reluctant to support impeachment, there isn’t to much time left before the House would need to start any proceedings. Looking back on the Clinton impeachment proceedings, the House voted to start impeachment proceedings on October 8, 1998 but didn’t formally adopt the articles of impeachment until December 19th of that year. The trial in the Senate then started in January with the president being acquitted in the middle of February.
With Mitch McConnell already refusing to even take up legislation that’s easily passed the House of Representatives, however, it’s highly unlikely he’d even allow a trial in the Senate. If there’s even a chance of this happening before the end of Trump’s first term, the deadline for changing the Republican leader’s mind about moving forward is rapidly approaching.
Considering how impeachment proceedings could distract from other worthy causes that Democrats are hoping to move forward with in the House of Representatives, many folks are unsure of it makes electoral sense for the Democrats to move forward with impeachment. As Lowell Feld over at Blue Virginia points out, 60 percent of all voters don’t support impeachment even though the majority of Democrats do. This has to be taken into account since any action taken would likely be a big topic of conversation in the lead up to the 2020 elections.
What this all means is more and more people are supporting impeachment as the evidence keeps stacking up against Donald Trump. There’s still a lot of work to do in gaining support of Democratic leadership, however, and the general public is even further behind in its support. If there’s going to be movement will happen before the 2020 election, support for impeachment would likely have to grow exponentially in the very near future.