By Tuesday, Democrats did not mince words. They emphasized their view that censure is a “slap on the wrist,” as the House Democratic leadership aide said to Newsweek.
“The facts are clear and uncontested. Yes, Democrats believe that censure is a slap on the wrist and not fitting for a clear incident of abuse of power by a president who encouraged a foreign government to interfere in [a] U.S. election for his political benefit.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the lawmaker who’s spearheaded the impeachment inquiry as chairman of the Intelligence Committee, told NBC’s Meet The Press over the weekend the evidence they’ve compiled of wrongdoing by the president “is already overwhelming.”
“But the fact that Republicans may be derelict in their responsibility doesn’t relieve us of our obligation to do our Constitutional duty,” he added. “And we feel an urgency about that.”
Polling may be on their side—although many surveys have signaled that voters’ support for ousting Trump has stalled, even in the wake of House Democrats’ public impeachment hearings. For example, FiveThirtyEight’s calculation of impeachment support compiled from an average of polls shows voters’ support for Trump being removed from office has remained unchanged since mid-October. Roughly 48 percent of voters say they back Trump’s impeachment and removal from office while about 44 percent oppose. Among Independents, support topped out just shy of 48 percent at the end of October, compared with less than 43 percent of voters as of Tuesday.
In public remarks, top Democrats made unmistakable nods to those numbers.
“When we see a violation of the Constitution, we have no choice but to act,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters at her weekly press conference last week. “And the evidence is clear that the president—the president—has used his office for his own personal gain and, in doing so, undermined the national security of the United States by withholding military assistance to the Ukraine, to the benefit of the Russians; that he has undermined the integrity of our elections by what he has done, again, the Russian interference being ignored by him—and, third, he has violated his oath of office.”
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