The Dam Might Finally Be Breaking on Impeachment

Donald Trump's now-infamous July phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is changing the math on impeachment. Trump reportedly asked Zelensky multiple times to look into the business dealings of former vice president Joe Biden's son Hunter, apparently in an attempt to hamstring the current Democratic frontrunner in the 2020 presidential election.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been vocally opposed to opening impeachment hearings against the president in the past. But the tide looks like it's turning. More and more Democrats are demanding that the Trump administration provide documents and transcripts relevant to the phone call to Zelensky—and threatening to impeach if they don't.

To illustrate just how quickly and dramatically things are developing, on Monday the Washington Post published three articles on Ukraine and impeachment in just under 50 minutes. First, seven freshmen Democrats signed an open letter declaring their support for impeachment proceedings, writing, "This flagrant disregard for the law cannot stand. To uphold and defend our Constitution, Congress must determine whether the president was indeed willing to use his power and withhold security assistance funds to persuade a foreign country to assist him in an upcoming election." All seven of those freshmen Democrats have backgrounds in national security and beat Republican incumbents in swing districts in 2018. David Axelrod, former chief strategist for Barack Obama, called their letter a "watershed" that represented moderate Democrats "throwing down the gauntlet" on impeachment.

By Monday night, five more congressional Democrats voiced support for opening impeachment proceedings, bringing the total for just that day to 12, including vulnerable freshmen centrists like Dean Phillips of Minnesota, and long-time Pelosi allies John Larson and Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut. They join several Democratic presidential candidates—including Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Julian Castro, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Tim Ryan, and Beto O'Rourke—who have been calling for the House to open impeachment investigations against Trump, as well as other House Democrats in vulnerable districts, like California's Katie Porter, Mike Levin, and Harley Rouda.

Shortly after that op-ed came out, the Post revealed that Trump reportedly told Mick Mulvaney, his acting chief of staff, to withhold almost $400 million in military funding for Ukraine a week before his call with Zelensky, according to three unnamed senior administration officials. The White House has denied that holding back the funding was a move to pressure Ukraine into interfering in the 2020 election, but even if that's true the optics are terrible.

Then, the Post reported that Pelosi had begun quietly reaching out allies and members of her caucus to take their temperature on whether or not Trump pressuring Zelensky is a "tipping point" on impeachment. Over the weekend, she released a statement warning that the Trump administration was "entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness." Pelsoi also reportedly coordinated with California representative Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, who was previously anti-impeachment. (Schiff also seems to be coming around on impeachment, saying it "may be the only remedy that is coequal to the evil that [Trump's] conduct represents.") All of this is a huge step forward from May when Pelosi claimed that impeachment is "just not worth it" and Trump "self-impeaches" every day.

On Tuesday morning, the impeachment calls from House Democrats continued to pick up more steam, including from Antonio Delgado of New York, Haley Stevens of Michigan, and Colin Allred of Texas, all from Republican-leaning districts. According to POLITICO, that brings the total number of representatives in favor to 159, all Democrats except for Justin Amash, a Republican-turned independent. The House needs 218—a simple majority—to impeach, with 76 Democrats still holding out, and that number dropping hourly. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Warren and Julian Castro have renewed their calls to impeach on Twitter with new urgency. "The President is a criminal," Castro tweeted. "The House must start impeachment hearings today."

How Dateline correspondent Keith Morrison became—and stayed—the granddaddy of true crime.

Originally Appeared on GQ