I didn’t expect that most of the suspense on the eve of the big vote would have to do with a Republican potentially crossing the aisle, but after Pelosi got some of the most endangered members of her caucus to come out in favor of impeachment yesterday, that’s where we are. The lone holdout among swing-district House Dems who may yet vote no is Kendra Horn, who represents an R+10 district in Oklahoma, but Horn may not want the distinction of being the only Democrat in the House who didn’t have the nerve to stick with her original position after voting to authorize the impeachment inquiry. (Tulsi Gabbard might also vote no but she’s not from a swing district.)
If Horn stays with her team then there’ll only be two votes in doubt realistically, Gabbard and … Republican Francis Rooney, a Romney ally who’s been making unhappy noises about Trump’s handling of the Ukraine matter since it began. Rooney’s also retiring after this term so he’s free to vote his conscience. Democrats would desperately love to have him cross the aisle here so that they could say that impeachment passed with bipartisan support. As it is, there’s a real chance that the only bipartisan bloc in the House and the Senate will be in opposition.
As of this morning, Rooney is leaning towards voting no:
Congressman Francis Rooney confirmed with NBC2 anchor Peter Busch that he is leaning toward voting against impeaching President Trump…
Rooney believes what President Trump did with Ukraine was definitely wrong, but it does not rise to the level of impeachment.
With the vote expected this week, Rooney believes the Democrats in the House of Representatives are rushing the process.
That seems pretty definitive considering that the vote is only 24 hours or so away. Nothing’s going to change between now and then to meaningfully affect Rooney’s thinking.
BREAKING: Republican Congressman Francis Rooney calls Rudy Giuliani's activities in Ukraine on behalf of Donald Trump "extremely disturbing" pic.twitter.com/mKopPnxlmn
— Zac Petkanas (@Zac_Petkanas) December 17, 2019
The article he mentions in the clip is this NYT story published this morning quoting Rudy Giuliani all but confirming the Democrats’ theory of why Marie Yovanovitch was recalled as ambassador to Ukraine.
In conversations in the first months of the year with the president, Mr. Giuliani, by his account, cast Ms. Yovanovitch as impeding not only investigations in Ukraine that could benefit Mr. Trump, but also Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to gather evidence to defend him — and target his rivals — in the United States.
“There’s a lot of reasons to move her,” Mr. Giuliani said, asserting that his briefings of Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo most likely played a role in their decision to recall Ms. Yovanovitch.
“I think my information did,” he said. “I don’t know. You’d have to ask them. But they relied on it.”
House Democrats claim that Giuliani urged Trump to ditch Yovanovitch because he knew she wouldn’t cooperate on a scheme to get Ukraine to investigate the Democratic frontrunner for president. Right, says Rudy, once again not knowing when to shut the fark up for his own good. Rooney’s clearly alarmed by that in the clip but seems to think it’s an argument for putting the brakes on impeachment and investigating further. Obviously that’s not going to happen for various political reasons so Rooney now has a decision to make. Does Giuliani’s brazenness give him the little extra nudge he needs to vote to impeach or does he decide that he can’t in good conscience condone this effort without having heard from Bolton, Mulvaney, Giuliani, and the rest of the president’s inner circle — however long that might theoretically take?
(Rooney is now chatting with Justin Amash)
— Haley Byrd (@byrdinator) December 17, 2019
The latest endangered Democrat to come out in support of impeachment, by the way, is Anthony Brindisi of upstate New York. His district is R+6 but he, and it, got a nice little bribe in the latest defense spending bill to encourage voters there to forgive him. There are 204 confirmed yes votes on impeachment in WaPo’s latest whip count as of 11 a.m. ET but if you skim the list of the 28 Democratic undecideds you’ll find that most — 21 — are from Democratic districts. In fact, 16 of those 21 are from districts that are D+6 or better so they have every electoral reason to stick with their party. Tulsi is the lone exception but even if you count her as a no vote, the remaining 15 will surely vote to impeach. Which means Pelosi has 219 in the bank, the majority she needs to make this happen.
Not a surprise at this stage of the game, but worth noting given the sporadic messaging from the White House that she might not be able to convince her caucus to go through with it. In reality there was never a shred of doubt. They’re going to do it.
Update: And there it is. The one truly vulnerable freshman Democrat left on the board is all-in.
#BREAKING: Rep. Kendra Horn says she will vote to impeach President Trump "“It is with a heavy heart, but with clarity of conviction that I have made my decision. The oath I took to protect and defend the Constitution requires a vote for impeachment." @OKCFOX
— Jennifer Falsetti (@JenniferFOX25) December 17, 2019
In the end Pelosi will have delivered every last member of her caucus from a swing district on impeachment, whatever that means for them next fall. The only thing potentially stopping her from delivering every Democrat who voted yes on the impeachment inquiry is Tulsi Gabbard. She’s still undecided — and must be getting lobbied intensely by both sides.