Bustos boosts poll backing impeachment

GOP Congressman Kinzinger blasts Trump tweet as ‘beyond repugnant’

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos sports a T-shirt celebrating House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before her remarks to Democrats on Governor’s Day in Springfield this summer. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos sports a T-shirt celebrating House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before her remarks to Democrats on Governor’s Day in Springfield this summer. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

A prominent Illinois U.S. representative is distributing a new poll showing that impeachment has become a tipping point for voters, with a majority in favor.

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos of Moline has previously argued against impeaching President Trump, saying, “You’ve got to stay local,” and insisting that voters rarely even raised the issue in her regular “Supermarket Saturdays” spent talking with constituents in local stores.

Yet, according to the national news website Politico, Bustos, as head of the powerful national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, distributed a poll to Democratic members of the House on Friday showing that impeachment might have become a hot-button issue among voters.

According to the DCCC poll of 1,013 voters — interviewed last Thursday and Friday after the Trump administration released the partial transcript of his phone call prodding Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden while awaiting the delivery of U.S. aid Trump himself had held up — a majority of 54 percent favor opening an “impeachment investigation” into the president, as announced by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week, with 43 percent opposed. And 50 percent favor “impeaching Donald Trump and removing him from office,” with 44 percent opposed.

The poll also found that “Democrats’ current electoral advantage increases when the debate is about impeachment.” Asked whether they would support “a Democrat who sided with Nancy Pelosi and supported an impeachment investigation into Donald Trump” or “a Republican who sided with Mitch McConnell and opposed an impeachment investigation into Donald Trump,” 49 percent favored impeachment and 38 percent sided with Republicans, with 14 percent undecided.

Asked, “Would it make you more or less likely to vote for a Republican in Congress if they voted with party leaders and refused to investigate Donald Trump even after it is proven true that he pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate his political rival,” 58 percent said they’d be less likely to vote Republican, while just 31 percent said they’d be more likely to vote GOP.

“Given the fluid nature of this week's events, we immediately went into the field to get a snapshot of the current sentiment. The results of that survey are attached here for your review," Bustos wrote in the email to colleagues in the House Democratic Caucus, according to Politico. "Polls conducted after big news events will often shift, but the attached shows a snapshot of where public opinion lies today. Please reach out if you have any questions. Thank you."

Politico reported Monday that Bustos and Pelosi were in on a conference call with their Democratic Caucus colleagues on Sunday. "The polls have changed drastically about this," Pelosi said, according to Politico, while Bustos “advised the caucus's most vulnerable members to gauge support and test their message through the use of polling in their respective districts.” She added that the DCCC would help pay for that local polling.

As head of the DCCC, Bustos is charged with recruiting and supporting Democrats across the nation in running for seats in the U.S. House. She has previously dissuaded Democrats from making impeachment a prominent issue.

Yet Bustos came out a week ago as the last member of the Illinois Democratic congressional delegation to back an impeachment inquiry. She issued a statement calling for “a bipartisan approach to a complete, thorough, and unimpeded investigation of the whistleblower’s report” on the phone call and potentially other compromising calls made by the president to foreign leaders. Last Wednesday, after the White House released the partial transcript laying bare the pressure Trump put on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Bustos issued another statement saying, “We learned in his own words that the president of the United States used the full weight of the most sacred office in the land to coerce a foreign leader in a way that undermines our democracy and threatens our national security.

“I support the House Intelligence Committee’s search for the truth in this impeachment inquiry,” she added. “Republicans and Democrats must demonstrate that, together, we stand for law and order and that this exploration must be fair, evenhanded, and unrushed.”

While all 13 U.S. House Democrats in the Illinois delegation now support an impeachment inquiry — with Congressman Bobby Rush of Chicago calling for impeachment outright — none of the five Republicans in the Illinois congressional delegation have made the same determination. Cracks appeared over the weekend, however, when U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Channahon took issue with a tweet Trump posted Sunday evening that he called “beyond repugnant.”

Trump repeated the words of a Fox News commentator who threatened that, if Trump were removed from office, “it will cause a Civil War-like fracture in this nation from which our country will never heal.”

Kinzinger, who served in the U.S. Air Force in Iraq and Afghanistan before being elected to Congress in 2010 and who continues to serve in the National Guard, immediately lashed back, tweeting, “I have visited nations ravaged by civil war. (President Trump) I have never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a president. This is beyond repugnant.”