At the start of Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate, all 12 of the candidates expressed support for the House impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump.
Trump’s efforts to convince Ukrainian officials to start an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to launch an impeachment inquiry in September.
“Sometimes there are issues that are bigger than politics, and I think that’s the case with this impeachment inquiry,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said when asked whether Democrats shouldn’t simply be content to try to remove Trump from the White House in the 2020 election rather than by impeachment.
Sen. Bernie Sanders said Democrats had no choice but to impeach Trump. “I think in terms of the Ukrainian incident, the idea that we have a president of the United States who is prepared to hold back national security money to one of our allies to get dirt on a presidential candidate is beyond comprehension. So I look forward, by the way not only to a speedy expeditious impeachment process, but Mitch McConnell has got to do the right thing and allow a free and fair trial in the Senate.”
Biden, who told moderator Anderson Cooper that his son Hunter “did nothing wrong” by joining the board of directors of the Ukrainian natural-gas company Burisma Holdings, said Trump’s refusal to cooperate with the House inquiry was itself impeachable. “I said from the beginning that if in fact Trump continued to stonewall what the Congress is entitled to know about his background, what he did, all the accusations in the Mueller report, if they did that they would have no choice — no choice but to begin an impeachment proceeding which gives them more power to seek more information,” Biden said.
Sen. Kamala Harris said Trump has “committed crimes in plain sight.”
“I mean, it’s shocking but he told us who he was,” Harris said, signaling her support for the impeachment inquiry.
While Sen. Cory Booker said Democrats had to be “fair” about how they conducted the impeachment inquiry, he also stressed that Trump had “violated” his oath of office and needed to be held accountable.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn, said that the impeachment inquiry should not bring government to halt.
“We can do two things at once. That's our job,” Kobuchar said. “We have a constitutional duty to pursue this impeachment, but we also can stand up for America, because this president has not been putting America in front of his own personal interests.”
Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro said the impeachment inquiry was not enough.
“We have to impeach this president. And the majority of Americans not only support impeachment, they support removal. He should be removed,” Castro said.
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg said that Trump “has left the Congress with no choice” but to begin the impeachment inquiry.
“This is not just about holding the president accountable, for not just the things emerging in these investigations, but actions that he has confessed to on television,” Buttigieg said.
An initial foe of impeachment, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, said that in light of what has been learned about Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky the inquiry “should continue to play its course out, to gather all the information, provide that to the American people, recognizing that that is the only way forward.”
Billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer, who made Trump’s impeachment a top priority even before seeking the Democratic nomination, was adamant that the time had come for Congress to take action.
“Two years ago, I started the Need to Impeach movement because I knew there was something wrong at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, that we did have the most corrupt president in the country and the voice and will of the American people would drag Washington to see it as a matter of right and wrong, not of political expediency. Impeaching and removing the president is something the American people are demanding,” Steyer said.
While what followed on Tuesday was far less harmonious, the first 15 minutes of the debate were largely debate-free.
“We have the responsibility to be fearless in the face of his criminality and his lawlessness,” Beto O’Rourke said.
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