Leah and I wanted to give you an update on yesterday’s events and provide a little context around Indivisible's role in moving the Speaker of the House to endorse Impeachment proceedings against the President. Our team will be sending around action items and next steps later today, but we didn’t want to let the moment pass us by without taking a step back to see how we got here.
The long road to impeachment. A little more than 2 years and 4 months ago -- after James Comey was fired -- Indivisible came out in favor of impeachment proceedings. We were one of the first national organizations to call for impeachment proceedings, but we were confident in the decision because we knew that was where Indivisibles were, and it’s what we believed was necessary to safeguard American democracy. Over the last 2+ years, Indivisible has had countless national days of action, call-ins, and national coordinating table meetings to press various aspects of the case for impeachment.
After Mueller’s appointment and for much of 2018, the pressure for impeachment largely relented, as we focused efforts instead on building the Blue Wave to retake some amount of power. After taking back the House, the impeachment conversation reignited, but House Leadership cautioned patience as we waited for Mueller's report. We waited. With Mueller's report finally released in the spring of this year, we mobilized yet again. While some House Democrats started coming out for impeachment, Democratic Leadership was slow to react.
While Pelosi was reportedly actively blocking the Judiciary Committee from moving forward on impeachment (over the objection of Chairman Nadler), we set up impeach.indivisible.org to ramp up in-district pressure and build the number of pro-impeachment members. Members started coming out slowly but surely -- including some front-line members like Katie Porter and Tom Malinowski (among others that local Indivisible groups had helped elect). Presidential candidates Warren and Castro led with calls for impeachment, but others cautiously held back.
It wasn't enough. Nothing was really changing in Washington. The Mueller Report, practically a directive to Congress to begin impeachment proceedings, sat on the shelf. Members of Congress weren't reading it or digesting it. They weren't being forced to. And House Leadership continued to try to change the conversation, squaring the difference with a muddled compromise on impeachment proceedings. Right before August recess, Chairman Nadler and progressive partners like Pramila Jayapal announced that the Judiciary Committee was indeed moving forward with impeachment proceedings.
The Judiciary announcement was a victory, but a partial victory. Judiciary Committee was allowed to move forward with impeachment work, but conservative Democrats and Leadership muddied the message and insisted that impeachment wasn't actually happening. It was almost like they were trying to relieve pressure from the grassroots, while not actually committing to do anything substantive.
So Indivisible launched Impeachment August with a group of other progressive organizations to increase pressure on members with a couple hundred local events over the congressional recess. Our goal was to get a majority of the House caucus on board. We surpassed that goal.
Then, last week, the Ukraine story broke, and Trump admitted on national TV to threatening a foreign leader in order to undermine a political opponent -- and the release of the transcript this morning backs up what he already admitted. But yet again, House Leadership's comments seemed designed to tamp down any sort of hope around impeachment.
On Monday, as the story developed, we pulled together with our national partners to plan a response. Yesterday, we got on the phone with MoveOn, PCCC, By the People and others, as well as our friends on Capitol Hill. It was clear the ground was moving quickly, but there was danger House Leadership would create a special committee to take authority away from Judiciary Committee and delay the process further. They needed pressure on Congress.
Pressure on congress is where we do our best work. So after the call, we mobilized, sending text messages and emails (like this one) and posting on social, asking you to take action, fast.
In just 4 hours, we drove over 11,000 calls to congress just through Indivisible's call tool alone (not counting the Indivisible members who have their members on speed dial...which is to say most). And it worked: In the early evening, Pelosi announced she was moving forward with formal impeachment proceedings -- and she is not circumventing the Judiciary Committee.
The fight is not over. We don't know how quickly this process will move forward, and the House is set to go into recess for 2 weeks at the end of this week. We are calling on Pelosi to cancel recess, and if we lose that fight, we will be mobilizing in-district events telling members to go back to work and get the job done. We are joining MoveOn in a Thursday D.C. action in front of the White House, and half a dozen national groups (as of this morning) are cosponsoring our in-district events around the country next week.
Big national victories can be surprisingly tricky to identify, and so they often go uncelebrated. These victories are almost always partial and uncertain. When we mounted statewide die-ins at Schumer's offices in June 2017 to encourage him to withhold consent to delay the TrumpCare bill into July recess and buy us more time, he ultimately relented - and then claimed he planned to do it all along. When we won the Senate vote against TrumpCare in July, we were worried for months that it would come back. When we took the House in 2018, the night felt disjointed and incomplete with losses in Florida, Georgia, and Texas.
This victory too is incomplete and uncertain. We don't know if all of our efforts would have led to this point had the Ukraine news not broken. We also don't know whether this will lead to impeachment as we envision it, or if it's just the latest development in a slow-walk strategy that will ultimately disappoint us.
But without grassroots pressure, pressure from you and Indivisibles nationwide, the dam would not have broken the way it did. Reporting from a few different sources points to the role of persistent grassroots pressure in shifting Democrats over to our side. This Ryan Grim piece is particularly good, and he's not alone in his take. A frontline Dem staffer told Gro, they came out for impeachment early in the summer and that "doing so had minimized the pain that so many others felt over recess." Another was blunter: “We spent all summer getting the shit kicked out of us back home.”
Power concedes nothing without a demand. And we're in the business of building local groups to confront power. So we’re celebrating - partial and uncertain as this victory may be - because power conceded something last night that we’ve been demanding for a very long time.
Ezra & Leah
Co-Executive Directors, Indivisible