It wasn’t with a heavy heart that Virginia Democratic Rep. Don Beyer on Tuesday endorsed initiating formal impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. And it was with unvoiced alarm that his fellow Virginia Democrat Rep. Abigail Spanberger ran from the impeachment question the same day.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has a wicked impeachment dilemma, and Virginia captures it perfectly. It’s been one month since Congress got its hands on the Mueller report, and Mrs. Pelosi has spent that time scrambling to balance competing demands in her caucus. Her approach -- call it pseudo-impeachment -- has involved accusing the president of all things impeachable (to appease the left) while not engaging in a real impeachment process (to appease moderates). That strategy is now hitting a wall.
The progressives in her party are lining up to demand an impeachment spectacle. They hail from uber-liberal districts, their constituents want Trump’s scalp, and they fear inaction will earn them a primary challenge. Even Mrs. Pelosi’s wingmen -- those who’ve had her fake-impeachment back -- are starting to break. The Washington Post reports that Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler is arguing for a formal impeachment inquiry, as are “five members of Pelosi’s leadership team.”
Mr. Beyer surprised nobody when he became the first member of Virginia’s delegation to call publicly for formal proceedings, joining at least two dozen other House Democrats. Mr. Beyer represents Virginia’s Eighth district, the most liberal in the state, encompassing the Washington suburbs of Alexandria and Arlington. Mr. Beyer won 63 percent of the general-election vote in 2014, 68 percent in 2016, and 76 percent in 2018. Until recently he had been flanking Mrs. Pelosi, and he was on record saying that any impeachment inquiry must have bipartisan support.