On the day after Robert Mueller’s long-awaited, much-hyped testimony in front of two different House committees about his nearly-two-year-long investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, only a few House Democrats added their names to the list of members of Congress supporting impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
“I believe that the time has come for the Judiciary Committee to open a formal impeachment inquiry and collect the evidence necessary to build a strong case against President Trump,” Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon explained in a statement. “His presidency is a danger to our national security and a threat to our democracy.”
Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware joined him, saying in a statement, “While I believe we must continue pursuing oversight through the six committees of jurisdiction in the House while also pursuing the facts in the courts, I believe opening an impeachment inquiry gives us firmer legal ground on which to stand.”
DeFazio and Blunt Rochester, along with Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, became the 94th, 95th and 96th Democrats – out of 97 House members (Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan is the other) to come out in favor of impeachment, according to CNN’s running count.
Which is not insignificant! But it is well short of the sort of avalanche of calls for impeachment that some Democrats – particularly liberals – had hoped to see in the aftermath of Mueller’s testimony. That hope was based on the idea that hearing the former special counsel elucidate the findings of Mueller’s 448-page report would drive home – to members of Congress and their constituents – the depth and breadth of Trump’s wrongdoing, triggering a dam-breaking series of impeachment calls.
But Mueller’s presentation during his testimony to the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees was significantly short of the sort of tour de force that would have compelled members on the fence to jump off en masse in favor of impeachment.
That only a few members joined those calls speaks to the lack of convincing that Mueller’s testimony did.
“I think it probably is going to stay where it is,” Rep. Juan Vargas, a California Democrat, told CNN’s Ashley Killough and Ali Main about the impeachment count. “I mean, a lot of us who have believed in impeachment for a long time I think will continue to believe and I think those that didn’t will continue not to believe.”
That’s right. Mueller’s testimony was not a bombshell. It was much closer to a bust – at least when it came to generating momentum for impeachment.
The Point: The 2020 election was always the best (and maybe only) way Democrats were ever going to remove Trump. That seems even more clear with the Mueller testimony in the rearview mirror.