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Democrats Call for an Impeachment Inquiry Into Trump

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John Turley, a constitutional-law professor at George Washington University Law School, told me that there is “no question” that framing the investigation as an impeachment inquiry would help Democrats in court. “When Congress is investigating for the purposes of impeachment, their authority is at its very apex,” he said.

But the growing chorus of angst within the Democratic caucus could portend trouble for Pelosi and other members who want to stay the course. Pelosi and her allies argue that Democrats still have options. In the closed-door meeting Monday night, the speaker reportedly reminded members that they can resort to a process known as “inherent contempt,” which would involve levying fines against administration officials. Pelosi also reportedly pointed to a recent legal victory: A federal district-court judge ruled that the president’s accounting firm must turn over his financial records to Congress. “We’ve been in this thing for almost five months and now we’re getting some results,” she told members.

But rank-and-file Democrats seem to be growing restless, and it seems unlikely that they will be willing to hold this position for much longer. “Can we just get the frickin’ information out there?” one aggravated communications staffer to a leading centrist freshman complained to me over the phone. “If you fine someone, what, they pay it and then okay? It’s a slap on the wrist.”

“I don’t get what it does,” added the staffer, whose boss hasn’t publicly announced support for impeachment, and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the press.

As cracks in the Democratic alliance grow, so too will leadership’s concerns about party unity ahead of the 2020 election. Pelosi and her allies seem to believe that pushing to impeach will all but guarantee that Democrats lose big next year. During a Democratic caucus meeting on Wednesday morning, the five committee chairmen offered updates on their respective investigations into the president and urged members to have more faith in the process. It was a reminder that even for the Democrats who feel most strongly about pursuing impeachment, it’s still an open question whether they are willing to confront the most powerful woman in Congress and her leadership allies to do it.

“There’s a very big difference between people going on Twitter and on MSNBC talking about how it’s time to launch an inquiry and people really sticking to those guns” in a Democratic caucus meeting, said a staffer to a House moderate, who requested anonymity in order to speak candidly.

“Some of these members would be mortified if they got a dressing down in front of their colleagues by [Pelosi],” he added. “These people want to go to war with Trump, but not with Nancy.”

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