A dozen more House Democrats have announced their support for launching impeachment proceedings against President Trump since the non-blockbuster congressional testimony of former special counsel Robert Mueller last week. As of Sunday night, according to Politico and NBC News, 104 Democratic representatives have backed impeachment (CNN counts 105). Four House Democrats from Washington State announced their support on Sunday, after an assortment of congressmen did so on Friday, and Politico reported on Sunday night that impeachment backers expect more lawmakers to sign on soon.
Impeachment supporters will need another 14 (or 13, if you go with CNN’s count) Democrats to obtain a majority within the caucus, but even if they do — and add Justin Amash, the Michigan Independent who has said he would vote for impeachment, for good measure — they will still be nowhere near the simple majority required for a floor vote on the matter. And Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made it clear she sees impeachment as a politically expensive lost cause.
Two polls conducted and released since Mueller testified show that the hearings did little to convince the overall electorate that Trump should be impeached. An ABC/Ipsos poll released Sunday found that 71 percent of Americans who had encountered news about the Mueller hearings say it didn’t make a meaningful difference, as noted in ABC News’s write-up of the results:
Among those who read, saw or heard about Mueller’s testimony, 47% said it made no difference in their views about impeaching the president. The public hearings had opposing impacts based on partisanship: among Democrats, 48% said they are more likely to support the process of impeachment that could ultimately lead to Trump’s removal from office, 8% said they are less likely to support impeachment and 44% said they feel the same as they did prior to Mueller’s testimony.
Whereas for Republicans, only 3% said they were more likely to support impeachment, 42% said they were less likely, and 54% were unchanged. Independents were split, with 26% saying they are more likely to support impeachment and 29% saying less likely. 45% of Independents said they feel the same as they did prior to Mueller’s testimony.
A Politico/Morning consult poll released Friday found no significant impeachment bump either, with only 38 percent of voters saying they supported it and 46 percent opposing it. Almost two-thirds of Democrats said they strongly favored impeachment, which is consistent with other recent poll results, but party leaders haven’t been universally persuaded by majority support among the base thus far.
On Sunday morning, House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler tried to walk the line between personal conviction and professional skepticism. Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, Nadler reiterated Friday’s news that there are “impeachment resolutions before the committee” and that it is deciding how to proceed, adding that Trump “violated the laws six ways from Sunday” and “richly deserves impeachment” in his “personal view.” But he also continued to maintain that, though Mueller’s testimony was “an inflection point,” more evidence was needed — like the secret grand-jury testimony in the Mueller report that the committee moved to obtain on Friday.
Congress is on recess until September 9, and the momentum for impeachment may indeed grow over that time. But even if dozens of additional Democratic House members come out in support and all the Democratic presidential candidates make impeachment a big deal in the upcoming debates, neither the Mueller hearings nor anything else is likely to make impeachment proceedings popular enough to produce anything other than deeper rift within the Democratic Party.