Since Speaker Nancy Pelosi
announced last month that the House would initiate a
formal impeachment inquiry against
President Trump, the topic has dominated the news. At Tuesday night’s Democratic debate, moderators asked the candidates about their views in an attempt to find daylight between them.
All 19 candidates in the field, including the 12 on the stage on Tuesday, have come out in support of the impeachment inquiry, though Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii had long opposed the idea.
The candidates are not perfectly aligned, however.
Some have spoken in favor of impeachment more forcefully than others. For instance, Julián Castro, the former housing secretary, has repeatedly called for impeachment proceedings to begin and for Mr. Trump to be impeached. Senator Elizabeth Warren has similarly called on the House “to vote on articles of impeachment” and promised to “do what the Constitution requires” if the matter comes before the Senate.
After months of restraint, former Vice President
Joseph R. Biden Jr. toughened his position and called for Mr. Trump’s impeachment for the first time last week. (Mr. Trump is facing an impeachment inquiry in the first place because of his request to the Ukrainian government that it look into what Mr. Biden did with the country’s officials when his son, Hunter Biden, was working for a gas company there.)
At the same time, others like Ms. Gabbard, have been careful to endorse only the impeachment inquiry and not necessarily impeachment itself.
Below is a partial transcript of the exchange on impeachment at Tuesday night’s Democratic debate:
WARREN: Sometimes there are issues that are bigger than politics. I think that’s the case with this impeachment inquiry. When I made the decision to run for president, I certainly didn’t think it was going to be about impeachment. But when the Mueller report came out, I read it, all 442 pages. And when I got to the end, I realized that Mueller had shown ... that this president had obstructed justice and done it repeatedly. And so at that moment, I called for opening an impeachment inquiry. Now, that didn’t happen and look what happened as a result. Donald Trump broke the law again in the summer, broke it again this fall.
You know, we took a constitutional oath, and that is that no one is above the law, and that includes the President of the United States. Impeachment is the way that we establish that this man will not be permitted to break the law over and over without consequences. This is about Donald Trump. But understand, it’s about the next president and the next president and the next president and the future of this country. The impeachment must go forward.
ANDERSON COOPER: Thank you, Senator Warren. You’re all going to get in on this, by the way. Senator Sanders, do Democrats have any choice but to impeach? Please respond.
SANDERS: No, they don’t. In my judgment, Trump is the most corrupt president in the history of this country. It’s not just that he obstructed justice with the Muller report. I think that the House will find him guilty of — worthy of impeachment because of the emoluments clause. This is a president who is enriching himself while using the Oval Office to do that and that is outrageous. And 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.
COOPER: Vice President Biden, during the Clinton impeachment proceedings, you said, “The American people don’t think that they have made a mistake by electing Bill Clinton and we in Congress had better be careful before we upset their decision.” With the country split, have Democrats been careful enough in pursuing the impeachment of President Trump?
BIDEN: Yes, they have. 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. This president — and I agree with Bernie, Senator Sanders — is the most corrupt in modern history and I think all of our history. The fact is that this president of the United States has gone so far as to say since this latest event, that in fact he will not cooperate in any way at all, will not list any witnesses, will not provide information, will not do anything to cooperate with the impeachment. They have no choice but to move.
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