Last year, Democrat Max Rose captured a seat in Congress by flipping a district that Donald Trump won by 10 points in 2016. This week, a whistleblower complaint from a CIA employee was released, detailing President Trump's efforts to pressure a foreign government to investigate his political rival. Perhaps understanding that many of his constituents in Staten Island and Southern Brooklyn may not be enthusiastic about the prospect of Trump becoming the third U.S. president to be impeached, Rose has tread carefully in addressing the impeachment investigation that has been opened by his colleagues in the House.
On Tuesday Rose declared that he "opposed a partisan impeachment process," while also noting that "all options must be on the table" to obtain the truth behind the complaint.
On Friday, Rose released another statement that does not include the words "impeach" or "impeachment," but notes that he finds the events of this past week "deeply alarming."
"This story is far from over and we must proceed in a deliberate and responsible manner that brings all the facts to the forefront and earns the trust of the American people," Rose's statement says. "That's the only way to uphold the Constitution without tearing this country apart. Under no circumstances will I allow politics to influence my decision regarding this matter.”
What exactly is proceeding, and to where is this procession going? Does this mean that Rose supports the impeachment inquiry announced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi?
A spokesperson for Rose has not responded to our questions.
Rose's breakdancing around the word "impeachment" may have been prompted by a story in The City, which detailed frustration from activists and organizers who campaigned hard for Rose to unseat Republican Dan Donovan last year and who expect him to get off the fence.
Nicole Negron, with the activist group Staten Island Women Who March, said that in the past, members of her organization defended and understood the congressman’s pragmatic and measured approach to national issues that could alienate moderate voters in New York’s 11th congressional district — where only one other Democrat has won in three decades.
Meanwhile, Capitol Hill politics have moved more rapidly than Rose has. When seven other freshman House Democrats with military experience came out Monday in favor of impeachment in a Washington Post op-ed, Rose’s name was noticeably absent.
“Many of our members are disappointed, and even personally offended, that the representative they worked so hard to elect has refused to call for impeachment,” Negron told THE CITY. “Especially in light of the latest whistleblower complaint and the fact that a majority in the House now support impeachment.”
Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans and Conservatives on the Rock 45 to 28 percent, but independents also make up 22 percent of the electorate, and many of those Democrats are conservative.
Facing challenges from the more progressive wing of the party, the Staten Island Democrats recently replaced their party chair of 12 years with State Assemblyman Michael Cusick. The party's office has not responded to a request for comment.
The number of House Democrats who have not voiced support for an impeachment investigation is dwindling. The New York Times reported that as of Friday afternoon, more than 90 percent of them support impeachment proceedings, and that there are currently 12 Democratic holdouts.
At least 218 votes are needed in the House to send articles of impeachment in the Senate. The Washington Post counts 225 Democrats who have gone on record in support of the impeachment inquiry, but no one knows how many would actually vote to impeach.
Rep. Anthony Brindisi, whose central New York district was won by Trump in 2016, is another Democratic holdout on the impeachment inquiry. His last statement on the issue came on September 24th, before the whistleblower complaint was released to the public.
(Despite the reluctance from Rose and Brindisi to support the impeachment inquiry, the New York GOP is fundraising off of them anyway.)
Congress is about to enjoy a two-week recess, but the members of the House Intelligence Committee say they will continue their work on investigating impeachable offenses, and may begin hearings as early as next week.