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Senate Democrats start climbing aboard the impeachment train, too

It seems to have happened suddenly, but a Democratic consensus on impeachment is starting to take shape.
Image: Chris Murphy, Richard Durbin (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
In this photo taken June 14, 2016, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., left, confers with Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., emerge from a closed-door party caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington. Murphy is launching a filibuster and demanding a vote on gun control measures.

The number of House Democrats endorsing Donald Trump's impeachment continued to grow this morning, with Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) -- a man who's been described as "the conscience of Congress" -- adding his voice to the chorus.

"There comes a time when you have to be moved by the spirit of history to take action to protect and preserve the integrity of our nation," the Georgia Democrat said on the House floor today. "I believe, I truly believe, the time to begin impeachment proceedings against this president has come."

As of this minute, I believe there are now 152 House Democrats and one House independent on board with the idea, though these numbers are subject to change at any moment. For those keeping score, there are currently 235 House Dems, which means 65% of the conference -- very nearly a two-thirds majority -- supports, at a minimum, pursuing presidential impeachment.

Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden, one of the few top 2020 contenders who hasn't endorsed impeachment, will reportedly announce today that if Trump refuses to comply with Congress' investigations, lawmakers will have no choice but to draw articles. (The other most recent Democratic vice president, Al Gore, also suggested yesterday he supports an impeachment process.)

And in case this weren't quite enough, Senate Democrats are starting to climb aboard the same train. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) endorsed Trump's impeachment yesterday, and early this morning, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) issued a written statement along the same lines.

"It is now my belief that the House of Representatives must begin an impeachment inquiry into the president's corrupt efforts to press a foreign nation into the service of his reelection campaign. As part of the inquiry, the House should take steps to assure that the pending whistleblower complaint be presented to Congress in full, and an investigation must take place into the full extent of the Trump administration's demands that the Ukrainian government become agents of the president's political agenda. If, as it appears Mr. Trump has already acknowledged, the president violated his oath of office by using the constitutional powers entrusted to him to try to destroy a political rival, then the president much be impeached."I am deeply sorry that our nation must begin this journey toward impeachment. Up until these recent developments, I had resisted calling for the House to begin impeachment proceedings, choosing instead to allow the House to consider its options free from senatorial advice. But circumstances have changed, and the seriousness of the moment requires all of us to speak out in order to preserve our nation's commitment to the rule of law."

Soon after, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) echoed the call, as did Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

As Politico reported, "The Illinois Democrat is the highest ranking member of Senate Democratic leadership to endorse impeachment proceedings. Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the No. 3 and No. 4 Senate Democrats, previously said they supported an impeachment inquiry."

At a certain level, I can appreciate why the opinions of Senate Democrats may be of limited relevance. They are, after all, in the minority, and won't have a say as to whether or not the House acts.

But I think it matters when so many Senate Dems endorse impeachment because it sends an unmistakable signal that a party consensus is taking shape.

I don't doubt that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) remains skeptical of the process, just as I'm sure she believes it's in her party's interests to choose a different course. But as powerful as Pelosi is, Congress' top Democrat will find it incredibly difficult to push back against the consensus view of her party.

For months, I considered Trump's impeachment unlikely. Suddenly, it seems inevitable.