And it shows no signs of slowing, driven by the release of the whistleblower complaint on Trump's July phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky and the transcript of the conversation, as well as anti-Trump lawmakers who have long sought to remove the president from office.
But Republicans say another factor has helped drive this debate through the summer – an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-style primary challenge pulling the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee further left and pressuring him to throw the impeachment book at the president.
“Is it really that hard to impeach such a lawless, corrupt president?” Lindsey Boylan, who is running against Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., in the Democratic primary, said in a recent campaign video.
Boylan’s campaign is not responsible for the impeachment inquiry launched by Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week. While Nadler had already been leading one, to a degree, the Ukraine bombshell brought Pelosi on board.
But her primary campaign represents another wild card in the already-chaotic impeachment melee.
After Pelosi’s announcement, Boylan cheered the move and immediately pressed for more, calling for a swiftly scheduled impeachment vote and investigations into everyone from Attorney General Bill Barr to Vice President Pence.
With Pelosi’s announcement, Nadler is no longer the principal player in the impeachment drive. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., now assumes a more influential role. But Nadler’s committee will remain at the heart of any effort to draft and move impeachment articles. And his primary challenger is keeping up the pressure on him to follow through, something she’s been doing for months.
Her weekend video took aim at Trump and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, asking: “And where are the Democratic leaders who swore an oath to defend the Constitution?”
The video was released just days after the House Judiciary Committee held what it called its first “impeachment hearing,” and as the controversy was first developing over Trump allegedly pushing Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and using U.S. aid as leverage.
Boylan accused the establishment of “stalling and feeding us a bunch of B.S.” She added, “For too many of them, Donald Trump is a fundraising opportunity, not an existential threat to our democracy.”
Trump hasn’t been a bad fundraising source for Boylan either. A longshot against 26-year incumbent Nadler, she managed to raise a surprising $264,657 in her first quarter by relentlessly hammering Nadler for not impeaching Trump already.
But that challenge – and the specter of an Ocasio-Cortez-style win over a Democratic powerhouse – could be having an impact.
White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” alleged over the summer that Nadler was “falling over himself to become more and more progressive in order to try and keep his job and not lose to the next AOC.”
New York’s 10th congressional district includes the west side of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. Nadler was first elected in a special election in 1992. New York Democrats are reportedly considering moving what was scheduled to be a June 23 primary back to April 28 to coincide with the state’s presidential primary.
Nadler did not respond to requests for comment for this report. A New York Daily News report earlier this month, though, said Nadler suggested Boylan was only using impeachment as her rationale for running against him and insisted he’s been looking at impeachment since early this year.
Boylan has been sharply critical of Nadler’s handling to date, telling a Yahoo News podcast last week that Nadler has “fumbled” impeachment by having a “muddled, elongated, prolonged process of nothingness.”
The 35-year-old challenger has something that Ocasio-Cortez didn’t in her 2018 primary victory shocker over then-House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th congressional district. Boylan, a former deputy secretary for economic development under New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, can cite government experience.
But the 14th district in 2018 and 10th district in 2020 aren’t entirely comparable, said Ester Fuchs, a resident of the 10th district and a Columbia University political science professor.
Crowley lost a district to Ocasio-Cortez that was just 10 percent white. Nadler’s district is about 60 percent white, said Fuchs, also a former adviser to ex-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
A big challenge in defeating Nadler, Fuchs said, is that despite his national profile, he is still very much a local politician.
“Jerry Nadler shows up and doesn’t ignore his district. He comes to community meetings. He’s engaged at the neighborhood level,” Fuchs told Fox News.
Recent polling indicates that while impeachment is a divisive issue for voters as a whole, it is popular among Democrats, the decisive force in a primary.
Still, there’s no visible frustration over Nadler’s pace in the district, Fuchs said.
“Anecdotally, people in this district seem proud their congressman is chairman of the Judiciary Committee and believe he’s handling the investigation of Trump responsibly,” Fuchs said.
Boylan’s campaign initially responded to an inquiry from Fox News about an interview with the candidate for a statement for the story, but did not respond to subsequent inquiries.