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Leaked Memo Shows Democratic Party Advising Candidates on Using Impeachment for Political Gain

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The chairwoman of congressional Democrats’ campaign arm sent her colleagues a memo this week advising them on messaging tactics regarding impeachment.

Illinois Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos’ memo, which she sent Thursday night, was quickly leaked to Axios and The Wall Street Journal.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry on Sept. 24 after weeks of back-and-forth between House Democrats and the Trump administration over a now-controversial intelligence official’s whistleblower complaint regarding a July phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The memo from Bustos, who’s the chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is largely geared toward vulnerable Democrats in battleground districts that could decide who controls the House in 2020.

“Below is a memo with messaging guidance on the impeachment inquiry,” Bustos wrote in an email to House Democrats.

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“This comes from research conducted by the DCCC’s pollsters over the past weeks. It reaffirms the strong position Democrats hold on this issue, due to the focus and restraint with which our Caucus has approached this pressing and serious matter. We hope you will find this guidance useful and we appreciate you keeping this within our Caucus.”

The memo purports to show that impeachment is growing in popularity among voters nationwide.

“Recent polling in national and battleground surveys has demonstrated that voters’ views on impeachment have shifted since the summer, with support for the impeachment inquiry growing as Democrats consolidate support and independent voters reject President Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine,” the memo reads.

According to internal DCCC polling, “voters back a Democrat who supports an impeachment investigation over a Republican who opposes an impeachment investigation by 11 points.”

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“Even in the 57 most competitive battleground districts, moving the inquiry forward is slightly favorable at 49-48,” the memo reads.

After claiming that Democratic congressional candidates hold a “strong position” as they investigate Trump, the memo provided House Democrats with “message guidance.”

“When discussing Trump’s actions, keep the language simple, direct and values-based: President Trump abused his power and put himself above the law when he asked the Ukrainian President to interfere in the U.S. election,” the memo reads.

“Emphasize the core value that no one is above the law,” it adds. “Incumbent members who support the inquiry are simply working to uphold the rule of law and Republicans who oppose the inquiry are failing to fulfill their oath of office.”

The memo has high words of praise for the intelligence whistleblower.

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“The whistleblower did the right thing by coming forward — members of Congress have a duty to protect this person, and Trump is wrong to threaten this person and impugn their character or motives,” the memo says.

Finally, the memo says House Democrats should “focus on the biggest issues facing families in the country,” acknowledging that issues like health care and wages “continue to out-rank impeachment as priorities for voters, especially swing voters.”

“By focusing on these and local issues, you can show voters that you know how to focus on their top priorities, while also navigating the impeachment inquiry,” the memo reads.

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