Mueller Testimony Deepens Democratic Divide on Impeachment

“Why would you ever even bring up impeachment after yesterday’s hearing?” Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, asked reporters. “That should be put to bed. We’ve watched it, we’ve heard it, we’ve read it. What more can they make up?”

For Democrats skeptical of or outright opposed to impeachment, the extended August recess could prove a fulcrum. Heading home with much of the legislative year behind them, several front-line Democrats said they feared the House’s pursuit of the president, even if justified, had forced them into hard-to-defend votes and had distracted them from the kinds of policy issues, like health care costs and wage growth, they ran on.

Representative Hank Johnson, Democrat of Georgia and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said he was under intense pressure from voters in his suburban Atlanta district to begin impeachment. But he said he was concerned that moving forward with impeachment proceedings would jeopardize the re-election of swing-district Democrats — the so-called majority makers. He cited Representative Lucy McBath, a freshman who occupies a neighboring district in Georgia.

“Her margin of victory was 1 percent; 60 percent of the people in her district are not in favor of impeachment,” Mr. Johnson said, adding, “You don’t proceed with impeachment without the support of the American people.”

Others in safer seats said they needed to hear what their voters made of Mr. Mueller and the unfolding narrative.

Representative Debbie Dingell, Democrat of Michigan, sounded pained as she discussed the choice lawmakers cannot shake. She has withheld support for impeachment because she believes her Detroit-area constituents are far more interested in pocketbook policy changes than an attempt to take down Mr. Trump.

“I think there are pragmatic people that know it is not going to take us anywhere,” she said. But she added, “You can’t let somebody do what he is doing.”

“I am trying to be very measured about this,” she said. “I want to hear what people back home are saying.”

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