Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Report: House Democrats 43 Votes Short of Impeachment

Tom Brenner/Getty, Olivier Douliery/AFP/GettyEzra Dulis18 Sep 20193,755

House Democrats remain divided on impeachment, with only 175 out of the party’s 235 U.S. Representatives willing to vote for ousting President Donald Trump, according to a Wednesday report citing Capitol Hill insiders.

Politico’s morning Playbook pegs the current whip count at 43 votes shy of the 218 needed to start the impeachment process: “Right now, Democratic insiders say 175 of their members would vote for impeachment today on the House floor,” write authors Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman.

They present this figure while discussing fallout over the combative Tuesday hearing with Corey Lewandowski, billed as a fact-finding session on “presidential obstruction of justice and abuse of power.” The former Trump campaign manager declined to answer questions citing executive privilege, “filibustered,” and mockedDemocrats on the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) — the figurehead of far-left impeachment efforts among party leadership. Nadler suggested Tuesday evening the Lewandowski could be held in contempt of Congress for his conduct during the hearing.

Palmer and Sherman say Lewandowski’s testimony did not help some skeptical Democrats sign on for impeachment. “Some Democrats privately told us that Lewandowski’s stonewalling was certainly enough to hold him in contempt,” they write. “But the party is so deeply divided on what they should do next that, to many Dems, it all seemed like a circus without a clear purpose.”

The party’s divide is best illustrated by a simmering behind-the-scenes conflict between Nadler and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the spokesperson for the 60 Democrats who believe impeachment will be a politically disastrous move — going nowhere in the Republican-controlled Senate and galvanizing President Trump’s base as he runs for re-election.

A separate Politico report Wednesday morning said Pelosi disparaged Nadler’s Judiciary Committee in a closed-door meeting, even telling anyone present that she hoped the criticism would become public.

In a closed-door meeting last week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi stunned lawmakers and aides with a swipe at Democratic staff on the House Judiciary Committee.

Pelosi criticized the panel’s handling of impeachment in harsh terms, complaining committee aides have advanced the push for ousting President Donald Trump far beyond where the House Democratic Caucus stands. Democrats simply don’t have the votes on the floor to impeach Trump, Pelosi said.

“And you can feel free to leak this,” Pelosi added, according to multiple people in the room.

Though she has privately lambasted her colleagues over the bad optics from impeachment mania, Pelosi has taken a more measured tone in public. “I’ve traveled the entire country. Come with me some time, and you’ll hear what the American people are saying,” she said at her press briefing last week. “They understand that impeachment is a very divisive measure, but if we have to go there, we’ll have to go there. That’s all I’m going to say about this subject.”

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