After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi finally caved to pressure from a growing cohort of Democratic lawmakers and formally launched an impeachment inquiry into President Trump on Tuesday evening, grassroots groups on Wednesday announced new efforts to urge undecided members of Congress to back "impeachment now!"
At 1 p.m. on Thursday, "activists backed by 19 progressive groups and House Democrats championing impeachment will gather outside the Capitol to demand that every member of Congress support an immediate impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump, and that the House Judiciary Committee subsequently move toward a public, unhindered inquiry that moves quickly to a floor vote on Articles of Impeachment," the advocacy organization MoveOn said in a statement.
"Thursday's event is a visible display of the alignment we're seeing between grassroots progressives and the over 200 House members who support moving toward impeachment inquiries," said MoveOn's incoming executive director, Rahna Epting. "It's becoming increasingly clear that Trump has and continues to repeatedly violate the oath and obligations of the office of the president of the United States."
"For the sake of the integrity of our democracy, the question of whether Trump has committed impeachable offenses cannot go unanswered any longer," added Epting. "We urge every member of Congress to support a public, transparent, and robust inquiry into several of Donald Trump's potentially illegal acts as soon as possible."
The rally is also backed by the groups By the People, Center for American Progress Action Fund, CREDO Action, Courage Campaign, Daily Kos, Demand Justice, Democracy for America, End Citizens United Action Fund, Free Speech For People, Hispanic Federation, Indivisible, Kremlin Annex, March For Truth, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, People, For the American Way, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Progressive Democrats Of America, Public Citizen and Stand Up America.
As of press time at least 217 House Democrats and Republican-turned-independent Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan had expressed support for an impeachment inquiry, according to The New York Times, which is tracking the position of every member of the lower chamber. That number has soared in recent days amid ongoing concerns about a phone call in July between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and on Wednesday morning released a memo of his conversation with Zelensky, which critics called a "smoking gun." Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), argued in an op-ed published Wednesday by The New York Times that the memo "is far worse than we could have imagined" and demonstrates that Trump "sought multiple favors from a foreign leader for his personal political gain and in doing so violated his solemn oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution."
Some supporters of impeaching Trump have called on congressional Democrats to not merely focus on Trump's legally dubious conversation with Zelensky. Peter Certo, editorial manager of the Institute for Policy Studies and editor of OtherWords, wrote Wednesday, "If Democrats feel they need the Ukraine story as a legal hook to start the process, that's one thing — but I hope they won't forget to make a political case against these much more egregious abuses along the way."
As Certo noted:
There's been any number of earlier abuses — from the merely venal (like altering a hurricane forecast with a sharpie) to the unapologetically corrupt (like putting military officers in Trump hotels and charging taxpayers for vacations at his own properties).
I also recall there was something about Russia, a fired FBI director, and — oh right — that time he called Nazis who'd just beaten people and killed someone in Charlottesville "very fine people."
Certo also highlighted Trump "taking buckets of fossil fuel money" while "destroying the planet," caging thousands of migrant children and "continuing to separate them from their parents after a court ordered him to stop," targeting progressive Democratic lawmakers on Twitter with "incendiary racist slanders," and "encouraging a foreign leader, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to block those members of Congress from an official visit to the top U.S. aid recipient."
Grassroots groups organizing in favor of impeaching Trump are also highlighting the president's broader record. Trump's conversation with Zelensky "confirms what we already know: Trump abused his authority, violated the law, and tried repeatedly to obstruct justice. Donald Trump is a criminal and these activities are impeachable offenses," according to Impeach Now, a joint project of many groups behind Thursday's rally.
Noting that the House still plans to go on a two-week recess and lawmakers are set to return to their home districts next week, Impeach Now is urging constituents on its website to "show up on the phones, at offices, and at town halls and make sure every member of Congress hears our message that they need to go back to Washington and take a vote to impeach Trump."
A coalition of 15 organizations led by Stand Up America and By the People sent a letter Wednesday to Pelosi and House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., demanding that they cancel the upcoming recess and "immediately get to work impeaching this lawless president."
"The House has a constitutional duty to protect our democracy by holding a corrupt president accountable — and this is not the time for our elected representatives to go home," the letter says. "In place of this recess, we urge you to begin an aggressive hearing schedule, swiftly draft articles of impeachment, and vote to impeach Trump this fall."
Sean Eldridge, founder and president of Stand Up America, declared in a statement that "the president of the United States is a clear and present danger to our democracy."
"Every day Trump is in office is another day he betrays his country and undermines our democracy for his personal gain," said Alexandra Flores-Quilty, executive director of By the People, a campaign to impeach Trump. "Our movement successfully pressured the House of Representatives to advance impeachment proceedings. Now, House leadership must cancel their recess, do their job, and vote to #ImpeachNow."