House Dems wrestle over impeachment decision

By Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report hasn’t even been out in the open for a week, but Democrats across the spectrum are looking for the answer to the same question: Where do we go from here?

Nadler leaves door open to impeaching Trump

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)

At the moment, Democrats appear to be scattered all over the place when it comes to impeachment. On Capitol Hill, Democratic leaders are trying to figure out the way forward as talk of impeachment proceedings gain steams with rank-and-file members. Three committee chairmen — Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) — made clear they are open to the possibility despite House Democratic leadership pumping the brakes (The Hill).

The caucus is slated to hold a conference call on Monday at 5 p.m. to discuss the path forward.

Meanwhile, vulnerable House Democrats are proceeding with the utmost amount of caution as they stand between the progressive wing of the party who are clamoring for impeachment proceedings and their districts, many of which sit in territory that the GOP views as ripe for the picking in 2020.

Reuters: Vulnerable House Democrats tread carefully in the wake of the Mueller report:

“Those incumbent Democrats may have to strike a delicate balance on the campaign trail next year. Too much bashing of the president could turn off voters more interested in kitchen-table issues and motivate Trump sympathizers to rally around him.

“Hours after Mueller’s findings were released, Abby Spanberger, a Democratic congresswoman from Virginia, held a town hall that saw virtually no discussion of the report. She knocked off a Republican incumbent last year in a district that favored Trump by more than 6 percentage points in 2016. The 39-year-old representative told reporters before the event that she was more interested in preventing Russia from attacking the electoral process than in ‘re-litigating’ the 2016 presidential contest.

Cummings: Barr acting like 'defense counsel' for Trump rather than AG

Elijah Cummings (D-Md.)

The Hill: Cummings: William Barr acting like “defense counsel” for Trump rather than attorney general.

The Washington Post: Nadler says Democrats will call Don McGahn to testify.

Complicating matters are the myriad 2020 presidential candidates on the Democratic side, who are all getting asked about the possibility of impeaching the president and will likely receive more questions in the coming days. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) issued an opening salvo Friday, calling for the House to begin impeachment proceedings.

“It’s my responsibility to speak out. … For me this is not about politics. There are some decisions that are bigger than politics.”

Others aren’t ready to go there yet. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) told voters in Nevada on Sunday that the time isn’t right for impeachment. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said that Nadler should continue to open up the investigation and “let the process play itself out,” making it clear he isn’t ready for impeachment either.

The question is coming for others too, as CNN is slated to hold a town hall with five 2020 Democrats on Monday night: Warren, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D).

On the other side of the aisle, it’s been crickets from Republicans, who have barely offered any criticism of the leader of the party. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said he was “sickened” to read about the actions of Trump, prompting a rebuke in the form of a presidential tweet.

As Alexander Bolton reports, the report’s release has put Senate Republicans who are up for re-election in 2020 in a real bind. They are all weighing the same problem: How far do they distance themselves from the president?

In the White House, Trump has also left the defending to his allies, namely Rudy Giuliani and Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president. Outside of a handful of tweets Sunday and a few retweets on Saturday, the president has stayed quiet, having declined to gaggle with reporters during his weekend trip to Mar-a-Lago.

The Washington Post: Armed with Mueller report, Democrats confront challenge of Trump’s messaging machine:

“For Democrats aiming to topple Trump in the 2020 election, the contrast was a stark reminder of the challenges ahead in a country where political information travels largely through polarized channels that can be shaped by a president fluent in angry denunciations of his enemies, tribal appeals to his base and frequent misdirection.”

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