The call formed part of the subject of a whistleblower complaint authored by someone in the intelligence community that, among other claims, alleges that White House officials tried to hide a transcript of the call because they understood the implications of Trump’s pressuring a foreign government to investigate the family of a political rival.
A majority of the House has already expressed support for impeachment, but Democrats face a significant roadblock in the Republican-controlled Senate. Despite Booker’s optimism about bipartisan constitutional obligations, interest in impeachment has so far fallen along party lines.
But Booker said that some Republican colleagues — namely Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah — had already taken a “sobered, thoughtful perspective” on the matter, and that Republicans might break ranks with the president if public opinion shifted in favor of impeachment.
Sasse said Wednesday that “there’s obviously lots that’s very troubling” in the complaint and the official read-out of the call that the White House released, but he castigated Democrats for pursuing impeachment before they had access to the complaint. Romney has expressed similar sentiments.
Booker and other Democrats have rooted their assertions that Republicans will come around on impeachment in the obvious historical precedent — as more information became public about the Watergate scandal and President Richard Nixon’s role in obscuring the truth, his support among even staunch Republican defenders in Congress eroded. Moreover, by the time the House Judiciary Committee voted on impeachment, Nixon’s popularity had hit bedrock and the majority of Americans supported impeachment.
“You have 32 percent, a third of Republicans out there, that say they could support some sort of impeachment if these are the facts,” Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), who sat on the House Intelligence Committee panel that needled the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, over the handling of the whistleblower complaint on Thursday morning, said on MSNBC. “I believe that’s going to grow, just like it grew during the Watergate era.”