As the Trump administration's lawlessness reached an "inflection point" Tuesday with former White House counsel Don McGahn's refusal to testify before Congress, so too did progressive pressure on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to stop abdicating her constitutional duties and immediately launch impeachment proceedings against the president.
"Without oversight of the executive branch any democracy is at serious risk of slipping toward a totalitarian regime. Congress must act now and act decisively."
—Karen Hobert Flynn, Common Cause
"The dam is breaking, and the voices of people demanding impeachment are becoming impossible to ignore," Heidi Hess, co-director of CREDO Action, said in a statement. "Nancy Pelosi is running out of excuses, and her ability to delay impeachment proceedings is getting weaker by the day."
"We need her to heed the growing calls of her colleagues and people across the country demanding she defend our democracy and protect us from Donald Trump," Hess said.
MoveOn, an organization with more than a million members nationwide, echoed CREDO, tweeting simply: #ImpeachmentInquiryNow.
The progressive groups' calls for impeachment hearings were also shared by a number of House Democrats Tuesday, despite Pelosi's claim that she is not facing any pressure from members of her caucus.
Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) said in a statement that Trump's "most recent actions and continued disrespect for the Constitution are forcing us down the road to impeachment."
"Congress swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. That includes impeachment."
—Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez"Stonewalling Congress on witnesses and the unredacted Mueller report only enhances the president's appearance of guilt, and as a result, he has pushed Congress to a point where we must start an impeachment inquiry," Pocan said.
Pocan's demand for impeachment proceedings came as McGahn, on orders from the White House, defied a subpoena to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, continuing the Trump administration's blanket opposition to congressional investigations.
Addressing McGahn's empty seat Tuesday, House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler said Congress "will hear Mr. McGahn's testimony, even if we have to go to court to secure it."
"We will not allow the president to prevent the America people from hearing from this witness," said Nadler. "We will not allow the president to block congressional subpoenas—putting himself and his allies above the law."
“Our subpoenas are not optional. Mr. McGahn has a legal obligation to be here for this scheduled appearance,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler says after former White House counsel Don McGahn defied the House subpoena and skipped the hearing https://t.co/t8x9sqMSWL pic.twitter.com/ltUZ9S8BWD
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) May 21, 2019
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McGahn's no-show at Tuesday's hearing came on the heels of reports that even some members of Pelosi's own leadership team are revolting against her opposition to impeachment proceedings, arguing that the speaker's justification for continuing with business as usual is untenable in the face of the Trump administration's extraordinary defiance of congressional oversight efforts.
In an interview with MSNBC's Kasie Hunt Tuesday morning, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said she believes "we have come to the time of impeachment."
"I think that at a certain point this is no longer about politics," said Ocasio-Cortez, "but this is about upholding the rule of law."
Asked what it is going to take for Pelosi to change her mind on impeachment, the New York congresswoman argued pressure from constituents will be essential.
"I think it really depends on everyday Americans," Ocasio-Cortez told MSNBC just before the Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday morning. "If you have a representative that is in a close seat and you think that we should be upholding the rule of law, I think it's time to give your representative a call. It sounds like a cliche—it's like your dentist telling you to floss to call your representative—but it's because we listen and it's important that we communicate."
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who in March introduced a resolution to begin an impeachment inquiry into Trump, tweeted, "The drum is beating and it is getting louder."
"The future of our democracy depends on us putting country first," Tlaib wrote, adding the hashtag #TimetoImpeach.
The drum is beating and it is getting louder. The future of our democracy depends on us putting country first. #TimetoImpeach
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) May 21, 2019
In a statement Tuesday, Common Cause president Karen Hobert Flynn said the "time has come to act."
"Without oversight of the executive branch any democracy is at serious risk of slipping toward a totalitarian regime. Congress must act now and act decisively," said Flynn. "History will not look kindly on any member of Congress who continues to put their party before their country by condoning the Trump administration's defiance of the United States Constitution."