Last July, even as Speaker Nancy Pelosi stood in opposition, Rep. Chris Pappas became the first Democrat representing a district Donald Trump carried in 2016 to call for a formal impeachment inquiry.
“After weeks of careful consideration and after countless conversations with my constituents, I believe it is imperative that Congress continues its oversight work by opening an impeachment inquiry,” Pappas said at the time. His bold decision left both Democrats and pundits puzzled. What was Chris Pappas thinking?
The mystery continues. Since tweeting a video announcing his decision on July 26, the New Hampshire Congressman hasn’t posted the word “impeachment” on his Twitter feed a single time since. He’s literally posted more about culvert repairs and raising the smoking age to 21 than whether he supports overturning the results of the 2016 election.
But those days are coming to an end whether Pappas likes it or not. The House plans to hold a floor vote on the impeachment process, most likely this Thursday. And like Pappas, the resolution is expected to avoid a direct vote on authorizing an impeachment inquiry, but will state that one is underway and lay out the guidelines for going forward, according to multiple media reports.
“Today’s backtracking is an admission that this process has been botched from the start,” House GOP leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said on Monday. But what does Rep. Pappas have to say?
“We will have a statement after the vote,” Pappas’ comms director Collin Gately told NHJournal.
Many New Hampshire voters, particularly Trump supporters in Pappas’s district, would like to know what their representative thinks of impeaching and possibly removing the president they voted for from office. They would like to know before he casts a vote to more the Pelosi-outlined process forward.
What little Pappas has said in public walks a line between supporting an impeachment inquiry and actually voting to impeach the president.
“I think it’s important to ensure that no one’s above the law, including the president of the United States,” he said on New Hampshire Public Radio last month. “But I support a process like this not to prejudge what comes out of it, but just to say that it’s part of our constitutional duties of oversight.”
And talking to a group of students at Kennet High School two weeks ago, Pappas again declined to say that Trump should be impeached, instead saying he supported moving forward with an inquiry to “shine a bright light on [Trump’s] behavior” regarding Ukraine.
“It’s in our national security interest to support Ukraine, but it didn’t appear the president was supporting our national security interest,” Pappas said.
Based on his public statements, it’s possible that Pappas could vote for the impeachment inquiry but then vote against actually impeaching the president. That would send New Hampshire progressives into a frenzy, but would it be enough to appease Trump supporters in his district? Probably not.
Soon after the announcement of a vote, the Republican National Committee sent NHJournal a statement. “This vote will only prove to Granite Staters that Democrats like Chris Pappas are bought and paid for by Nancy Pelosi and the socialist squad – at the expense of working for their constituents,” it said in part.
Which is why, however noncommittal Chris Pappas may be today, he is all but certain to vote for President Trump’s impeachment when the day comes. Being an early booster of impeachment was a high-risk move. It’s hard to imagine the notoriously cautious congressman making another one.