WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment dam is beginning to show cracks.
Rep. Katie Porter, a Democrat who flipped a competitive Southern California district last year, announced in a video posted to Twitter Monday evening that after “weeks of study, deliberation, and conversations with Orange County families,” she has decided to support an impeachment inquiry.
“I have not come to this easily,” Porter said in the video. “I didn’t come to Congress to impeach the president. I ran to use my decades of consumer advocacy to help Orange County families. I ran to fight back against Big Pharma and outrageous prescription drug pricing, to help families with the crushing costs of child care, and to take on the affordable housing crisis hurting our community, and I will continue to do those things and much more, but when faced with a crisis of this magnitude, I cannot with a clean conscience ignore my duty to defend the Constitution.”
In an interview with CNN last week, Pelosi said Democrats were “not even close” to having a majority of members supporting impeachment. According to a BuzzFeed analysis, more than 60 members now support an inquiry, and in recent days a number of new members have joined the call, including Rep. Eric Swalwell, a presidential candidate and close ally of Pelosi’s.
But Porter is just the second member in a group known as the “frontline” Democrats — members who flipped seats held by Republicans or those the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee believes could be in danger of losing their seat — to call for impeachment.
Other than Porter, Rep. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey is the only other frontline Democrat to call for an impeachment inquiry. Porter, who has attracted national attention as a protégé of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s, could open the door for others to officially support an inquiry.
Porter’s announcement comes after a recent press conference in which special counsel Robert Mueller announced he was leaving the Department of Justice and reiterated that he did not have the ability to indict President Donald Trump but that he could not clear the president of any wrongdoing, a point Porter emphasized in her video.
“The administration has refused to respect the rule of law,” she said. “They have ignored multiple subpoenas, they’ve directed current and former high-ranking officials to disregard summons to testify, and the president has continued his efforts to spread mistrust of our law enforcement, contempt of our journalists, and false information about the law, Director Mueller’s findings, and basic, uncontested facts.”
She added, “The question is not whether a crisis is in our midst, but rather whether we choose to fight against it.”
Members of the DCCC’s frontline list have been reticent to take on the impeachment question, even as progressive members have made it a major focus in recent weeks. Reps. Harley Rouda and Katie Hill, both of whom represent Southern California districts near Porter’s and are on the DCCC’s frontline list, have wrestled, sometimes publicly, with the idea of impeaching Trump.
Last month, according to a Washington Post report, Hill said she was “on the verge” of calling for impeachment after the White House blocked former counsel Don McGahn from testifying before Congress. She told her colleagues she was willing to lose her seat over it if necessary, but she has not gone so far to officially join calls for impeachment.
Earlier this week, Rouda told the New York Times that if the White House is still refusing to comply with congressional investigations by June 30, he, too, will call for an inquiry.