WASHINGTON — Tom Steyer, the progressive billionaire leading a campaign to impeach President Trump, said candidates running for office this fall need to address “what we are going to do about a lawless, reckless, and dangerous president.”
He tells Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM that if the candidates “are not for impeachment,” they should explain “what is their solution to the lawlessness and recklessness of this president?”
“The question should be, and I would pose it, what are we waiting for? How much information do you need? If the level of corruption isn’t too much for you, how many laws does he have to break before you decide he has to go?”
The “i” word has been a topic that a number of Democrats fear will backfire on the party as it faces the midterms, and instead want to focus on what House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi calls a “culture of corruption.”
But Steyer said the convictions of Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen and Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort were a “straightforward piece of evidence about the lawlessness that surrounds this president and the lawlessness that he’s participated in.”
“That is something that we have believed to be true and argued is true for at least 10 months, but I felt as if this was strong corroborating evidence,” he said.
Since the Manafort and Cohen convictions, the idea of impeachment has gained support from columnist Bret Stephens and political strategist Steve Schmidt, two conservatives who have been Trump critics, Steyer noted.
Steyer has poured millions into the Need to Impeach campaign, and has collected 5.5 million signatures in the effort to impeach Trump. Last week, he announced that he was spending an additional $10 million on a Need to Vote campaign to mobilize the electorate, drawing on the petition list to organize and make direct content.
He said about 4 million petition signers are people who don’t normally vote in midterms, and that “works out to about 13,000 people per congressional district.
The consternation among Democratic leaders over Steyer’s effort is that it will give Republicans an issue to rally around in response. In July, Pelosi said that impeachment was “off the table” if Democrats win back the House and that it would be a “gift” to Republicans. Her caveat was if new information came to light.
Steyer said their recent polling shows that Republicans’ main fears are that Democrats will raise taxes, that they will be soft on immigration, and that they will elect Pelosi as the next speaker. “Not even close to the top three is impeachment.”
“The thing is, no matter what I say, no matter what Nancy Pelosi says, this election, to a very large extent, will be a referendum on this president and his administration,” Steyer says. “I don’t think there’s any question about that, and so I think that anybody who is running for office should be speaking plainly to the American people about what we are going to do about a lawless, reckless, and dangerous president.”
He is also not ruling out running Need to Impeach ads in September and October. “We might put on ads to respond to something specifically,” he said.
The complete interview will air from 2-3 p.m. ET/11 a.m.-noon PT on “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS. It also will be available on demand.
Here’s a clip: