Following Robert Mueller’s explosive testimony last week, Democrats seem more certain than ever that the time to begin impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump is now or never.
With three-fourths of Democrats favoring impeachment per a CNN poll last week, it seems as if the Democrat-controlled House is running out of excuses to not push forward with Trump’s removal and please party members.
But in talks with the Texas Signal, multiple longtime Democratic operatives in Texas say impeachment is worth the wait– especially for an emerging battleground state like the Lone Star State.
“We can’t fall victim to confirmation bias, we have to make reasonable decisions based on facts and evidence,” said Colin Strother, a Democratic political strategist who has worked on dozens of Texas campaigns over the past 25 years.
He said most Democrats have yet to see an unredacted Mueller report and that House Democrats are still conducting investigations based off the findings.
“To do anything other than that risks our credibility with our voters,” Strother said. “It’s not the most popular opinion among Democrats, but it’s the one that makes sense.”
At a national level, no Democratic leader has represented a more similar wait-and-see approach than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In March, she said she was against Trump’s impeachment because it would be divisive and because the president is “just not worth it.”
Following Mueller’s public testimony last week, Pelosi doubled down on moving forward with caution: “You don’t bring an indictment, you don’t bring an impeachment unless you have the facts, the strongest possible case, so that the president is held accountable one way or another.”
Matt Angle, a Democratic political strategist and founder of the Texas-based PAC Lone Star Project, praised her approach.
“She’s allowing the process to move forward, peeling back the layers of the onion in order to get where they need to be,” Angle said.
“She is continuing to let the pressure build on Donald Trump,” he said. “She is ignoring any sense that there’s any pressure on Democrats.”
Angle said Pelosi’s handling of impeachment gave much-needed breathing room to candidates and lawmakers in competitive districts and swing states like Texas who might see voters turned off by the rhetoric of impeachment.
Those thoughts were echoed by Harold Cook, a longtime Texas politico who served under Governor Ann Richards.
“I like the fact that they are only reluctantly getting into this. I think politically, it serves them a lot better,” Cook said.
He said if Democrats were too gleeful about impeaching Trump, it could backfire just like when Republicans tried to impeach Bill Clinton and only saw his popularity rise.
“It’s analogous to going to war, you better have the support of the American people,” Cook said.
For Democrats like Houston’s Rep. Al Green— one of the first party members in a growing list of Democrats calling for Trump’s removal— impeachment can’t wait.
“There are opinion-makers and opinion-shapers who want to maintain the status quo,” Green said during a C-SPAN interview in March. “For them, bigotry is a talking point, not an action item. It’s an action item for me.”
Both 2020 Democratic presidential candidates from Texas, Beto O’Rourke and Julián Castro, support impeachment.