Key House Democrat: About 40 of us want Trump impeached

WASHINGTON — About 40 House Democrats now support impeachment, including about 90 percent of those on the House Judiciary Committee, according to a key Democrat on the judiciary panel who is one of the more aggressive advocates for impeachment.

In an interview with the Yahoo News podcast "Skullduggery," Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., also pointed to a “a little bit of tension” this week during a closed-door meeting in which he told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that President Trump was “raping the country” and should be impeached.

“Speaking truth to power is one of the things that a good congressperson should do,” Cohen said. He acknowledged that Pelosi — with whom he remains close — stuck to her guns and continues to oppose the move, effectively blocking the Judiciary Committee from opening up an impeachment inquiry despite the sentiment of the 23 Democrats who make up the panel’s majority.

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US President Donald Trump claps as he leaves after speaking during a Make America Great Again rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 27, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Scott Walker, former governor of Wisconsin, center, waves during a rally with U.S. President Donald Trump in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Donald Trump Jr., son of U.S. President Donald Trump and executive vice president of development and acquisitions with the Trump Organization Inc., distributes hats to the crowd ahead of a rally with U.S. President Donald Trump in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. As his 2020 campaign gears up, President Donald Trump is putting an early focus on the three Rust Belt states that sent him to the White House after Republican losses in midterm elections showed his support in the region is fading. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA, UNITED STATES - 2019/04/27: An NRA member and Trump supporter wearing a MAGA hat looks at a shotgun during the third day of the National Rifle Association convention. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Attendees hold placards during a rally with U.S. President Donald Trump in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump waves during a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Attendees hold placards during a rally with U.S. President Donald Trump in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Donald Trump Jr., son of U.S. President Donald Trump and executive vice president of development and acquisitions with the Trump Organization Inc., speaks during a rally with President Trump in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. President Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US President Donald Trump waves during a Make America Great Again rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 27, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump claps during a Make America Great Again rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 27, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Supporters listen as US President Donald Trump speaks during a Make America Great Again rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 27, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump leaves after speaking during a Make America Great Again rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 27, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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Cohen’s estimate that more than 40 Democrats now favor impeachment is higher than most other estimates. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., No. 5 in the House leadership, estimated earlier this week that pro-impeachment members numbered at only about 20 to 25.

But even though Cohen’s higher estimate is still far short of a majority, he hasn’t given up hope that Pelosi may come around — and has redrafted his own resolution to impeach that he may introduce shortly. “I guess she's persuadable,” Cohen said about Pelosi. “You know, she's a smart woman and ... I just disagree with her perspective."

The tensions between Democrats like Cohen and Pelosi boiled over this week during closed-door meetings in which impeachment advocates argued that the House could no longer stand idly by while Trump stonewalls and refuses to allow key witnesses in the Russia investigation — such as former White House counsel Don McGahn — to testify. Those views are held most passionately by members who, like Cohen, are on the House Judiciary Committee.

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“People who get on the judiciary committees care passionately about the Constitution,” Cohen said. “Not to say that others don't, but not as passionately as we do to make it our first choice. And we are charged with the responsibility of defending the Constitution. It probably is about 90 percent [of Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee] in favor of impeachment.”

Pelosi, for her part, this week charged that Trump is engaged in a “cover-up” and even suggested that family members and the Cabinet should stage “an intervention” after the president cut short a White House meeting about infrastructure because Democratic leaders have pursued investigations of him.

Still, Pelosi so far has strongly resisted opening an impeachment inquiry, arguing that the current strategy of investigating Trump and challenging his refusal to comply with subpoenas through the courts was paying dividends. (Two federal judges this week ruled against Trump over his efforts to block subpoenas to turn over his banking and accounting records.)

But Pelosi also believes an actual vote to impeach is bad politics in part because it appears ultimately doomed in a Senate that is solidly controlled by Republicans — none of whom have signaled willingness to break with the president. In the House, Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., is the only GOP lawmaker who supports impeachment.

Pelosi even argued in the closed-door meeting Thursday that Trump is goading the House into impeaching him, knowing he will be acquitted in the Senate and can then claim exoneration, according to the Washington Post. “He wants to be impeached so he can be exonerated,” Pelosi reportedly said.

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WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 8: File photo dated 08 May, 1996 shows US Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, speaking during a Capitol Hill press conference in Washington, DC. House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt (R, D-MO) is expected to announce 07 November, 2002 that he will not seek another term after the Republican opponents took both the House of Representatives and the Senate in mid-term elections 05 November. One of two Democrats vying to fill the spot is is Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi; the other is chairman of the Democratic caucus Martin Frost (D, TX). (Photo credit should read J. DAVID AKE/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 20: US President Bill Clinton signs the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act Amendments of 1996 20 May at the White House in Washington DC. Standing behind Clinton are (L-R) Jeanne White, mother of Ryan, White House Aide Patsy Fleming, Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), Rep. Henry Waxman(D-CA), Rep. Nancy Pelosi(D-CA). (Photo credit should read CHUCK KENNEDY/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 25: HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS: Ranking member Nancy Pelosi ,D-Calif., during the House Appropriations,Foreign Operations subcommittee markup of FY 98 foreign operations appropriations. (Photo by Douglas Graham/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
SLUG:NA/BAILOUT DATE:9/26/08 WASHINGTON, DC CREDIT: DOMINIC BRACCO II From left, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) speak during a press conference about legislation for a bailout of the financial crisis on Capitol Hill on Sept. 26, 2008. (Photo by Dominic Bracco Ii/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
Washington, UNITED STATES: US President George W. Bush is applauded by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (R) and Vice President Dick Cheney (L) as he delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol in Washington 23 January 2007. AFP PHOTO/Larry Downing/Pool (Photo credit should read LARRY DOWNING/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 10: WHIP RACE--Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., left, victor in the Democratic Whip race, talks to reporters and celebrates with supporting members after the Democratic caucus elected her to replace outgoing Whip David E. Bonior, D-Mich., who is running for governor of Michigan. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, : Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA,L) newly elected Democratic Minority Leader raises her hand with outgoing leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO) 14 November, 2002 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Pelosi's election marks the first time in the history of the US Congress that a woman will lead her party. AFP PHOTO MIKE THEILER (Photo credit should read MIKE THEILER/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 26: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks to the California delegate breakfast in Boston, Massachusetts on the first day of the Democratic National Convention, July 26, 2004. (Photo by Chris Kleponis/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 02: STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS--House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and 2004 presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., talk before President George W. Bush's State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
Congressman John Lewis, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Harry Belafonte, Jessie Jackson and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (Photo by Moses Robinson/WireImage)
WASHINGTON - JUNE 04: U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) addresses the 2008 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference at the Washington Convention Center June 4, 2008 in Washington, DC. Democratic U.S. presidential hopefuls Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) are scheduled to speak to the same event. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - MAY 22: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds her weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol May 22, 2009 in Washington, DC. Pelosi turned the news conference into an opportunity to list what she and the Democratic House leadership considered their successes of the 111th Congress' first session. She took a handful of questions about her upcomming trip to China and her statements about the CIA. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 23: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, right, and Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, shakes hands while addressing the media before a meeting at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, July 23, 2009. Maliki pledged to mend sectarian divisions and fight corruption as he urged the international community to continue providing support to his nation. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC- Jan. 05: House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, accepts the gavel from outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as the 112th Congress convenes at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 23: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) works with staff before a vote on the House floor during a typically busy day on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, Thursday, June 23, 2011. (Photo by Melina Mara/ The Washington Post via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES â DECEMBER 1: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., holds her weekly on camera news conference in the Capitol on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - APRIL 22: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (L) and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi attends the Public Counsel's 2012 William O. Douglas Dinner at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 22, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 05: House Minority Leader Sen. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) waves as she takes the stage during day two of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 5, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The DNC that will run through September 7, will nominate U.S. President Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 14: House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks to the media as female House Democrats gather around during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol, on November 14, 2012 in Washington, DC. Leader Pelosi said that she has decided continue to lead the House Democrats and does not wish to retire at this time. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, bottom center, stands for a photograph with Democratic women of the House on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. 65 House Democratic women are part of the 114th Congress, the largest number of women in a party Caucus in the history of the Congress of the United States. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 07: (L-R) Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore, Apple's SVP of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue, CEO of Apple Tim Cook, music producer Jimmy Iovine and Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi attend the Pre-GRAMMY Gala and Salute to Industry Icons honoring Martin Bandier at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - JULY 15: Vice President Joe Biden and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., leave a meeting with House Democrats in the Capitol Visitor Center where Biden briefed members on the nuclear deal with Iran, July 15, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JULY 14: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., introduces presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton to the press for her on the Iran nuclear deal following her meeting with House Democrats during their weekly caucus meeting in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, July 14, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi works with staff in her House Leadership office during a typically hectic legislative day on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Wednesday May 18, 2016. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (L) walks with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi after attending a meeting with the House Democratic Caucus on June 22, 2016 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 28: House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Thursday, July 28, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 14: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), chats with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), during a memorial service to honor the late Rep. Mark Takai (D-HI), 49, who died from pancreatic cancer last July, at the US Capitol September 14, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: (L-R) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) drive nails into a piece of lumber at the 'First Nail Ceremony' September 21, 2016 outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. The ceremony marked the official launch of construction on the Inaugural platform where the next President of the United States will take the oath of office on Friday, January 20, 2017. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 22: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) answers questions during her weekly press conference at the U.S. Capitol September 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. Pelosi answered questions on a range of topics, including congressional negotiations on a new continuing resolution. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
U.S. Vice President-elect Mike Pence, right, shakes hands with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, following a meeting in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. During their closed-door meeting, Pelosi expressed strong concerns about Trump's decision to name former Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon to be his chief White House strategist, and asked him to reconsider the appointment. Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Pool via Bloomberg
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But Cohen said that political calculus could change if the House as the 2020 elections get closer, especially if the House Judiciary Committee could hold televised hearings to educate the country about the contents of special counsel Robert Mueller's report. That could turn up the heat on several GOP senators who are up for reelection next year and are considered vulnerable.

“You’ve got Corey Gardner [of Colorado,] and you’ve got [Martha] McSally [of Arizona,] and you’ve got [Susan] Collins [of Maine,] and you’ve got a couple of others that could get beat because of this,” he said. “And that’s not the reason to bring [impeachment,] but it's reality. Instead of saying, ‘Well, the Senate's not going to convict him,’ let the senators do what they do and let them deal with it at the polls.

He continued: “And I think the American public, after seeing the proof, ... we'll see that this is the most corrupt administration ever, and that they will not support a senator who didn't support convicting him or impeaching him.”

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