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Freshmen Democrats still cautious on impeachment

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The vast majority of freshman House Democrats are still unwilling to say they support impeaching President Trump, with most preferring to wait until Congress has conducted more oversight investigations, according to an Axios survey of all 64 of the new Democrats.

The bottom line: This was a followup to a survey Axios did in January. At the time, most of the new House Dems were uninterested in discussing impeachment before special counsel Robert Mueller completed his investigation.

  • Flash forward six months and, while support for impeachment has ticked up, the results are largely unchanged — which is surprising given the increasingly vocal debate around impeachment inside the Democratic Party.

Between the lines: 23 of these freshmen Democrats won in districts that Trump won in 2016. To get re-elected, they will need to stay on the good side of voters who are sympathetic to the president, which perhaps explains their cautiousness on impeachment.

By the numbers: Of the 64 freshmen House Democrats...

  • 42 say they want Congress to continue their oversight investigations before launching impeachment proceedings. In January, 48 said they thought Congress should wait for the release of the Mueller report before considering impeachment.
  • 13 say they support impeaching the president, up from only 6 in January.
  • 4 have not made clear, on-the-record statements. Previously, only 3 members fell in this category.
  • 5 caution against impeachment, down from 7 in January.

Those proportions fall roughly in line with the entire Democratic caucus, where just 66 of its 235 members publicly support launching an impeachment inquiry, according to an Axios analysis.

Yes, but: There are certain nuances in members' perspectives that don't come across in a straight tally. Among the "wait and see" House Dems:

  • 4 say they are getting closer to wanting to launch impeachment proceedings.
  • 5 are extra cautious and emphasize the gravity of the matter.
  • 9 say they are deeply troubled by Mueller's report.
  • 11 say they are fully prepared to support impeachment down the road, especially if the Trump administration continues to stonewall their subpoenas and interview requests.

What to watch: The numbers are low, but they could grow in the coming months — especially as the House committees accelerate the pace of their investigations and the Trump administration continues to stonewall those efforts.

Go deeper: Here's the spreadsheet showing my reporting on where every new House Democrat stands on impeaching Trump.