Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee took what they viewed as a significant step forward Thursday in formally outlining the procedures for their future investigations into President Donald Trump, a move that Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said they will use to "determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment."
The conflicting messages gives Democrats the opportunity to to play the party's stance on impeachment as they see fit.
"This is outrageous, to protect the amount of lawlessness," New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said.
"It's hopeless. It makes no sense at all," the former Republican Speaker of the House said in an interview with Fox News.
The House will likely focus on legislation around gun policy and election security and the Senate, led by Republican Mitch McConnell, has a large group of judicial nominees waiting for approval.
The move will mark the first formal procedure taken by the Democratic-led committee to officially define its "impeachment investigation," as Chairman Jerrold Nadler has dubbed it, and will better explain how the probe will operate going forward.
"The Committee does not believe that U.S. taxpayer funds should be used to personally enrich President Trump, his family, and his companies," a Democratic committee chairman wrote in a series of letters requesting information and documents.
As more House Democrats come out in support of an impeachment inquiry, some of them have been the targets of an orchestrated effort by a coalition of the country's largest liberal activist groups.
Although the chamber's Judiciary Committee has not officially voted to initiate impeachment proceedings, Democrats continue to say that they are, "in effect," already in the midst of an inquiry.
Republican support for impeachment proceedings has nearly doubled from May to July.
Four of the country's largest progressive grassroots organizations are tired of waiting on House Democrats to initiate impeachment proceedings—so they're combining their efforts.
Senator Patty Murray and four Washington state Democrats called for the House to launch impeachment inquiries on Sunday.
"The jury I'm most worried about, not the Senate because I think that's a preordained conclusion, is the American people. Can we make the case to the American people? I want to make sure that's true before we go down that path."
"The president is as he usually is or often is, disgusting and racist," Nadler said, labeling Trump's Cummings attacks a "distraction."
The divide among House Democrats concerning an impeachment inquiry is consuming too much oxygen in the room, stifling much of the public recognition they've sought for legislative achievements since regaining the majority.
"It is absolutely clear to me that the time has come for Congress to pursue a dedicated impeachment inquiry."
The time for eloquent speeches about proceeding methodically has long since past. We must begin impeachment proceedings so that we can say to our children and grandchildren: We did all we could.
As of Wednesday evening, #ImpeachmentInquiryNow had been mentioned in more than 65,8000 tweets and #ImpeachNow in over 59,000 Twitter posts.
Nearly all Democrats appeared to publicly remain within their respective anti- or pro-impeachment camps. Democratic leadership also continued to pour cold water on the idea.
"Mueller has enormous power here to move the perception of Americans," Carl Bernstein said.
Democrats have said that the simple act of having the former special counsel testify publicly could be the tipping point for many of their colleagues in supporting an impeachment inquiry.
Some Democrats worry an impeachment vote imperils moderate and swing district members, while unfinished congressional probes lack support from leadership.
Rep. Al Green introduced the articles of impeachment shortly after the House voted to condemn the president's recent remarks about four women in Congress.
Ken Starr criticized Democrats using impeachment as a "first resort" and blamed the polarized reaction to Trump's comments toward four freshman congresswomen on no "unifying force" such as a "foreign enemy."
"I think it's really important for us not to normalize the behavior of this president and this administration," freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar said.
"The way he's acted as president has been completely at a detriment to our nation's unity," a veteran said of Trump.
"The frustration is that there's no bar, there's no line in the sand that we're waiting for in order to trigger impeachment," the freshman Democrat said.
Robert Mueller's testimony will offer Democrats the first chance since the release of his report to directly question the former special counsel.
Trump's relentless obstruction means that an impeachment inquiry is now the only viable option to reveal the facts and to hold him accountable.
Impeachment continues to be a thorny topic for Democrats. For the most part, leaders of the party have argued that impeachment is a politically risky move.