In a move meant to maximize the camera’s and public attention, Democrats on Thursday night gaveled the committee haring to a close without a vote on impeachment. Democrat chairman Jerry Nadler of New York, reconvened the committee Friday morning and, with a full contingent of media present, held a vote in view of the cameras. That surprise move came after some 14 hours of often bitter partisan debate with Democrats remixing silent on specific charges against the president in the articles.
On Friday morning the House Judiciary Committee passed two articles of impeachment against President Trump, accusing the president of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. It was the first time in history that the vote was on a strictly party line vote.
The impeachment case now heads to the full House of Representatives where Democrats, many of whom began talking of removing Trump the day he was inaugurated, have vowed to officially impeach Trump before Christmas.
However, after months of investigations and weeks of debate–much of which was kept from the view of the public, it seems the number of people who support the impeachment effort has significantly dropped with independents joining Republicans as now opposing the Democrat effort.
“We have an ongoing crime. We have a crime in progress,” Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) told the committee.
But staunch Trump defender Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said, “It’s not just an attack on the presidency. It’s an attack on us. It’s an attack on those of us who believe in this president.”
“This is a constitutional crime spree, that’s why our courage is do badly needed right here, right now. Our national security and our democracy are depending on it,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA).
Although earlier this year Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said impeachment should be bipartisan, it appears that opposition to impeachment is what will have bipartisan support with some House Democrats abandoning their own party.
“The impeachment is going to fail and the Democrats will pay a heavy political price for it,” predicted Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA).
A number of Democrats serving in swing districts fear a vote for impeachment could cost them their seat.
“I made a commitment to my district from the moment that this began that I’m going to focus on all the facts,” explained Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) who serves in a swing district.
Senior Democratic aides tell the Washington Post the number of Democrats defecting could range from two to possibly six or more.
When asked about those moderate Democrats forced to take a tough vote, Speaker Pelosi said, “People have to form to their own conclusions.”
Even with defections, the House is all but certain to impeach the president after which the Senate is expected to move quickly through its trial in the new year. And despite the president’s call to subpoena high profile witnesses like Joe and Hunter Biden, Senate Republicans may not call any witnesses.
“There’s zero chance obviously the president is going to be removed from office,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said during an interview on Fox News Channel.
And that appears to be the way Americans want it. According to a new Monmouth University Poll, voters still oppose impeachment by a slim majority 50 to 45 percent. Americans in swing states oppose it even more, and independent voters are strongly against impeachment from anywhere from eight to 19 points.
Despite their efforts, political observers say this hasn’t been the homer Democrats hoped for and will likely pay for the costly investigation and lack of legislative progress when voters return to the polls.
–Dwight Widaman and wire services