(CNN) — House Democrats are publicly holding out hope that historic impeachment hearings will persuade a vast majority of the American public that President Donald Trump committed high crimes and misdemeanors — but privately many acknowledge that it’s unlikely to happen.
In a private meeting this week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her top lieutenants were skeptical about the prospects of a dramatic shift in opinion even as public impeachment hearings began this week, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter. The upshot, the sources said: Democrats need to move forward with impeachment proceedings even if the politics are murky, noting that even during Richard Nixon’s presidency most of the public was divided until soon before he was forced to resign.
“Well, I think there are hard views on both sides,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told CNN when asked if he thought the public’s views would shift dramatically. “And sadly, apparently, Trump was perhaps right when he said of his own supporters that he could shoot somebody in the middle of Fifth Avenue and they would not require any accountability.”
Democrats have made a concerted effort to shift their rhetoric to clearly convey to the public a more concise message: That Trump engaged in “bribery,” which is cited in the Constitution on impeachment, when he pushed Ukrainian officials to investigate his political rivals in exchange for $400 million in military aid the country desperately sought — a message Pelosi conveyed on Thursday, a day after the first public impeachment proceedings.
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