The current number of impeachment backers may not necessarily, or immediately, change the calculation for House Democratic leadership on how to proceed as Democrats continue their investigations into the President and his administration. But it nevertheless shows that support among Democrats on Capitol Hill for an inquiry is continuing to grow.
Rep. Salud Carbajal of California became the 118th Democrat to publicly support the start of an impeachment inquiry in a statement on Friday, at least the 23rd lawmaker to do so since special counsel Robert Mueller testified on Capitol Hill last week.
“I’ve read the full Mueller Report, the president knew the rules and he broke them—he cannot be above the law,” Carbajal said in the statement. “That is why I believe it is time to open an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.”
There has been a steady increase in the number of House Democrats who have announced they back an inquiry in the wake of Mueller’s hearings, including Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, a member of House Democratic leadership.
Mueller’s uneven testimony did not immediately prompt a wave of Democrats to back an impeachment inquiry, and many congressional Republicans declared his appearance the official end of the House Democratic impeachment push.
But since the House departed for its six-week recess at the end of last week, the number of Democrats backing an impeachment inquiry has steadily ticked upward, with more nearly two dozen Democrats publicly announcing their decision following Muller’s appearance.
And while the initial group of Democrats who started calling for an inquiry was comprised of mostly progressives, several mainstream or moderate Democrats have joined in the call weeks.
The list now includes some Democrats who flipped Republican seats in the 2018 midterms, including Reps. Harley Rouda of California, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell of Florida, Jennifer Wexton of Virginia, Sean Casten of Illinois, Katie Porter of California and Mike Levin of California.
House Democrats also escalated the impeachment fight following Mueller’s testimony when the House Judiciary Committee announced that it was suing to obtain the secret grand jury material from the Mueller report in federal court. The committee argued they needed the information in order to decide whether to impeach the President — and Chairman Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat, said the committee was “in effect” already conducting the equivalent of an impeachment inquiry.
The lawsuit escalates the investigation into the President being conducted by the committee that could lead to impeachment proceedings, which the Judiciary Committee would lead. Nadler and other committee Democrats have said that the court filing is a new step that signals the committee is actively considering whether to introduce articles of impeachment.
Pelosi has downplayed the possibility of impeachment since Democrats took over the majority in January, but has also vowed that the party will hold the President accountable through rigorous oversight of the administration.
The House speaker has also insisted last week that she is not trying to stall on impeachment.
“I’m not trying to run out the clock,” the California Democrat told reporters recently, adding, “We will proceed when we have what we need to proceed, not one day sooner,” and saying, “Everybody has the liberty and the luxury to espouse their own position and to criticize me for trying to go down the path in the most determined positive way. Again, their advocacy for impeachment only gives me leverage.”
On Friday, Pelosi’s office released a lengthy statement, outlining her party’s efforts to investigate Trump’s administration, adding “Democrats in the Congress continue to legislate, investigate and litigate.
“In America, no one is above the law,” Pelosi said in the statement. “The President will be held accountable.”
This story has been updated with additional developments Friday.