The Democrats Who Made Impeachment Possible

These vulnerable members of Congress will be ruthlessly targeted in 2020.

The only reason the impeachment of Donald Trump is on the table is that the 2018 midterms gave Democrats a significant majority in the House. Even with the overwhelming and uncontested evidence that the president abused his power and obstructed Congress, Republicans have demonstrated no interest in holding Trump accountable. It is clear that if they were still in the majority, none of this would be happening.

The 2018 blue wave in Congress was powered by dozens of Democrats who won seats in swing or Republican-leaning districts. It is those representatives that face some risk in voting to impeach the president. Conservative groups have already lined up to identify them as the “Dirty 30.”

Residents in 31 congressional districts are about to be inundated with millions of dollars’ worth of TV spots, Facebook ads, texts and tweets blaring that the “radical left” is trying to remove the president after a “witch hunt” — and that their Democratic representative is complicit.

Conservative organizations are blanketing those districts — which one group dubbed the “Dirty 30” — because each one voted for Trump in 2016, but later elected a Democrat in 2018. They’re convinced that impeachment has handed them a golden opportunity to flip those House seats in 2020, part of a long-shot bid to win back a Republican majority come November.

If those efforts are meant to intimidate Democrats into voting against impeachment, it doesn’t seem to be working. On Monday, the Washington Post reported that “of the 31 House Democrats who represent districts that Trump carried, at least 17 have said they will vote to impeach the president.” Cristina Marcos provides us with some of the names.

Democratic Reps. Elissa Slotkin (Mich.), Matt Cartwright (Pa.), Jason Crow (Colo.), Joe Cunningham (S.C.), Ben McAdams (Utah), Abigail Spanberger (Va.), Andy Kim (N.J.) and Gil Cisneros (Calif.) were among those who made their plans public on Monday in press conferences, statements and op-eds published in local papers as they make their way back to Washington from their districts ahead of an expected Wednesday floor vote on two articles of impeachment.

They join vulnerable Reps. Tom Malinowski (N.J.), Sharice Davids (Kan.), Susan Wild (Pa.), Angie Craig (Minn.), Antonio Delgado (N.Y.), Chris Pappas(N.H.), Katie Porter (Calif.), Max Rose (N.Y.), Colin Allred (Texas), Conor Lamb (Pa.), Elaine Luria (Va.), Kim Schrier (Wash.), Susie Lee (Nev.), Xochitl Torres Small (N.M.) and Tom O’Halleran (Ariz.), all of whom said in recent days they will vote for the articles charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Two vulnerable Democrats have already voted in favor as members of the House Judiciary Committee, which advanced the articles on Friday: Reps. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (Fla.) and Lucy McBath (Ga.).

When it comes to the politics of an impeachment vote, these representatives face a no-win situation. On the one hand, a vote to impeach Trump means that they will be targeted heavily by their opponents and the Republican establishment in the 2020 election. On the other hand, the evidence against Trump presents a slam-dunk case and they would ultimately face blow-back as cowards for not acknowledging that fact.

That is why these representatives might be the closest we’ll get to a group that is making their decision on the merits of the case rather than partisanship. What you’ll see from all of them is the kind of statement issued by Representative Colin Allred, who represents the 32nd congressional district in Texas, which is rated R+5.

I swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and I thought it was important that the American people see and hear the testimony in a public setting at the hearings by the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.

After reviewing the evidence and testimony delivered to Congress, I have determined that the articles of impeachment are appropriate. Next week I intend to vote yes, as it is clear the President engaged in an abuse of his authority, putting himself above the law, and his personal interests above the nation’s.

After reviewing weeks of testimony from dedicated, non-partisan public servants, Trump Administration officials, the Administration’s own call summary and the whistleblower’s report; it is clear that the President attempted to bribe the leader of a foreign nation to smear a political rival and to undermine our next election.

These uncontroverted facts are an unacceptable violation of his oath of office and constitute an impeachable abuse of power. This is a somber moment for our nation, and I have not reached this decision lightly.

The vulnerable Democrats who will vote in favor of impeachment include several who have backgrounds in national security, as well as those like Allred and Sharice Davids who have law degrees. When they report that they have completed a careful review of the evidence, they bring serious credibility to the task.

These aren’t the loudest voices in Congress or the ones who are beloved by the progressive activist base of the Democratic Party. It is very likely that most liberals would find reasons to disagree with some of their positions. But the impeachment of Donald Trump is happening because they got elected in tough districts and, as a result of their votes this week, they will be ruthlessly targeted for defeat in 2020.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.