The day after former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's congressional testimony, Americans were confronted with a series of headlines declaring the death of the impeachment effort. If there's one thing we learned from Wednesday's hearings, according to a great many observers, it's that air has escaped the impeachment balloon. Donald Trump could breathe easy.
But the pundits and headline writers may have been a little too quick to draw those conclusions. Just yesterday afternoon, five House Democrats -- including a member of the House Democratic leadership -- voiced their new support for presidential impeachment proceedings. They were joined by two more today.
Exact counts vary a bit, but we appear to be up to about 100 U.S. House members who've said either that Trump has already been shown to have committed impeachable acts, or have said a formal impeachment inquiry should begin.
It's against this backdrop that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) indicated today that, for all intents and purposes, an inquiry is already underway.
Flanked by Judiciary Committee members who've voiced support for an impeachment inquiry, Nadler was asked by NBC News to clarify whether the Judiciary Committee has already initiated an impeachment inquiry."Whether you call that an inquiry, or whatever you want to call that, that's what we've been doing," Nadler said, later adding that they have already been conducting one "in effect."
At the same press conference, Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), both members of the Judiciary Committee, told reporters this morning that as far as they're concerned, the panel's existing investigation is an impeachment investigation.
Raskin added that the Judiciary Committee may ultimately act unilaterally, regardless of the Democratic leadership's wishes, and draft articles of impeachment on its own.
Or put another way, the reports of impeachment's death have been greatly exaggerated.
Two months ago, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said there were only about 35 members supporting the president's impeachment, and she chided the press at the time for making "a fuss" about a small group of lawmakers.
Now that the number has nearly tripled, the issue is far more difficult to dismiss.