Progressive advocacy groups across the country are ramping up pressure on federal lawmakers to open an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. The push follows several weeks of Democrats in Congress publicly supporting impeachment, which has divided a growing sect of the party from its reluctant leadership.
Just last week, Stand Up America — an activist group founded after the 2016 presidential election — launched a nationwide campaign urging Americans to contact their representatives in Washington and appeal for impeachment. The organization has so far driven 25,000 constituent calls to congressional offices in every district in the U.S.
"If lawmakers in Congress aren't feeling the pressure to start an impeachment inquiry, they aren't listening,” Ryan Thomas, Stand Up America’s spokesperson, said in a statement to Cheddar.
The group’s campaign includes emails, text messages, and digital advertisements, as well as a new website that allows Americans to schedule congressional office visits.
In recent months, several high profile representatives — including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) — have called for impeachment hearings, citing special counsel Robert Mueller's refusal to exonerate the president and the White House's unprecedented stonewalling of congressional investigations.
Also last month, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) became the first Republican to support impeachment.
"America’s institutions depend on officials to uphold both the rules and spirit of our constitutional system even when to do so is personally inconvenient or yields a politically unfavorable outcome. Our Constitution is brilliant and awesome; it deserves a government to match it," Amash said in a tweet.
Congressional Democrats, however, continue to face resistance from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Pelosi has long maintained that a divisive impeachment hearing could ultimately hurt Democrats, and that the top priority should be defeating Trump in the 2020 presidential election, which would also free congressional investigators from executive privilege and Justice Department restraints.
On Wednesday, Pelosi told colleagues in a private meeting that she did not want to see Trump “impeached. I want to see him in prison,” according to multiple reports.
Undeterred, activist groups across the country are increasing their efforts in hopes to sway lawmakers from the ground up.
“As more information about Trump’s criminal conduct comes to light, support for impeachment hearings is growing across the country,” Sean Eldridge, Stand Up America’s founder and president, said in a statement. “It’s time for every lawmaker in Congress to go on the record about whether they believe Trump’s criminal conduct is acceptable—and we’re ensuring that representatives hear from their constituents in every single district.”
Along with Stand Up America are several other liberal activist groups including Move On, CREDO Action, and California businessman Tom Steyer’s Need to Impeach organization, which has gathered over 8 million signatures on a petition for Congress to open an impeachment inquiry.
Last month, Need to Impeach also delivered 15,000 petitions to Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who serves on the House Judiciary Committee, urging him to support impeachment, which he later did.
“Impeachment hearings will allow Congress to lay out the evidence of Trump’s crimes in nationally televised hearings for the entire country to see, while also putting Congress in a stronger position to enforce subpoenas and compel key witnesses to testify,” Thomas told Cheddar.
President Trump, however, maintains that impeachment is a nonstarter. “I don't see how. They can because they're possibly allowed, although I can't imagine the courts allowing it," Trump told reporters last week.
Yet in 1993, the Supreme Court unanimously settled that issue, ruling that an impeachment trial “is reposed in the Senate and nowhere else.”