Behind closed doors Democratic lawmakers are doubtful that an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump is enough to convince the American public that the president has engaged in high crimes, despite publicly touting confidently that the process will establish wrongdoing.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who set in motion the impeachment inquiry, was initially undecided on whether to launch it against the president when former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation published its findings. However, the public view on impeachment shifted to reflect more in support of impeachment when the July 25 call transcript was released.
Democrats are carrying out an investigation in the name of an impeachment inquiry to determine whether President Trump had pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to exchange military aid for probing into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
But President Trump denied any wrongdoing, calling his conversation “perfect.”
President Zelenskiy too said there was “no blackmail” and there was no pressure for him to get involved in American politics.
The military aid to Ukraine eventually flowed free of condition.
A Nov. 12 memorandum sent to House Republicans pointed out that Ukraine was “not aware of a hold on U.S. security assistance at the time of the July 25 call.”
According to the document, “security assistance flowed to Ukraine in September 2019” without requiring Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter—indicating that there is no pressure involved.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) when asked by CNN if there would be substantial shift in the public’s view regarding impeachment, answered that the views are largely partisan.
“Well, I think there are hard views on both sides,” Hoyer told CNN on Nov. 14.
Democrats also acknowledged that convincing the general public that what the president did amounts to gross misdemeanor would be a challenge.
“The point is we are all working to try to make a fairly unusual concept to most Americans—abuse of power—understandable,” Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) said, without explaining how exactly the president has abused his power.
Going for a clearer approach in their messaging to the American public, Democrats have changed their phrasing of accusations that President Trump engaged in wrongdoing as “bribery,” since bribery is a crime according to the U.S. Constitution.
The Constitution names the grounds for impeachment as “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
But so far Democrats were not able to establish evidence for any wrongdoing by the president.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said in an Oct. 28 tweet condemning the lack of fairness in the inquiry for GOP lawmakers and the president alike in the Dem-led inquiry.
“House Democrats [are] now suddenly saying they’ll vote on an impeachment resolution to ‘ensure transparency’ is rich – considering they’ve spent weeks conducting interviews in secret, leaking their own talking points while locking down any and all information that benefits the President,” Meadows tweeted.