During the meeting in the Capitol basement Wednesday morning — where staff and cell phones were not allowed — Pelosi posed a simple question to her caucus: “Are you ready?”
She received an enthusiastic response from the Democrats in the room.
Pelosi used Wednesday’s meeting to deliver a simple marching order for the caucus: “What the Speaker said is, ‘Read the report,'” said Rep. Donna ShalalaDonna Edna ShalalaOvernight Health Care: Fireworks on health care expected at Dem debate | Trump FDA pick dodges on vaping ban | Trump to host meeting on youth vaping Friday | AMA calls for immediate vaping ban Congress feels heat to act on youth vaping Sanders doubles down on Bolivia ‘coup,’ few follow suit MORE (D-Fla.).
Democrats met as the House Judiciary Committee prepared to hear from four witnesses about whether Trump had committed impeachable offenses. Three of the witnesses, all invited by Democrats, said that he had. A fourth witness invited by Republicans said the case for impeachment had not been made.
The impeachment inquiry has been proceeding with the expectation there could be a floor vote on impeaching Trump before Christmas, but a number of Democrats are now raising questions about that timetable.
“There’s a sense that we have this overwhelming evidence in front of [us], we should probably act on it, whether that happens before Christmas or shortly thereafter,” he said.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) noted another complication facing Democrats leading the impeachment investigation: each new interview and hearing seems to turn up new details about Trump’s actions for investigators to explore.
“For me, the only issue is what do we do with all this new information that seems to come in every single day,” Cleaver said.
While Pelosi and other Democrats have made it clear that their effort is moving forward on substantive grounds, there are reasons to think the party would like to finish with their work on impeachment sooner rather than later.
Polls on impeachment have been mixed, and Pelosi has long been wary that the inquiry could backfire on her party — particularly centrist members representing districts that were either won by Trump, or where the president performed well.
Democrats also want to focus on their own agenda to show voters they have moved forward with the priorities they outlined ahead of their midterm victories in 2018.
“There are more to come,” said Rep. Denny HeckDennis (Denny) Lynn HeckExclusive: Guccifer 2.0 hacked memos expand on Pennsylvania House races Heck enjoys second political wind Incoming lawmaker feeling a bit overwhelmed MORE (D-Wash.).
Additional hearings would leave the panel little time before Christmas to finalize the process and move articles to the floor. The House is scheduled to leave Washington on Dec. 20.
As Democrats huddled in the Capitol Wednesday morning, Republicans where doing the same just down the hall, where Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceHouse Republicans on Judiciary strategize ahead of Wednesday’s impeachment hearing Trump’s Russia scorecard Michael Bloomberg’s billions can’t save an unserious campaign MORE made an appearance at the House Republican Conference meeting to rally the troops ahead of the Judiciary hearing.
“He talked about the contrast of what Republicans have gotten done in the House versus what the Pelosi leadership team has not accomplished,” Rep. French HillJames (French) French HillThe Suburban Caucus: Solutions for America’s suburbs An unintended burden on small businesses A true believer in diversity, inclusion MORE (R-Ark.) told The Hill.
“And I think balance the issue of both what they haven’t done — USMCA, a bipartisan NDAA, a bipartisan appropriations process, bipartisan solutions to the border — to contrast that with staying focused exclusively on their disapproval the president and their attempt at impeachment.”