On Monday night, a CNN Town Hall showcased five Democratic candidates—Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar (and yes, Joe Biden still hasn’t announced his candidacy)—more than 18 months out from the 2020 election. To keep you from the horror of watching five hours of the candidates recounting their platforms and fielding questions, we’ve summed up how they feel about an issue that has picked up momentum ever since the release of the partially redacted Mueller report.
Without further ado, here’s what each of the Democratic hopefuls had to say about impeaching Donald Trump in the wake of the Mueller report’s revelations:
Anderson Cooper asked the Massachusetts senator, “What do you say to those Democrats who say, look, this is not the time, it’s going to take away the focus from winning in 2020? Speaker Pelosi told her caucus again just today that she no plans to immediately initiate impeachment proceedings.”
Warren, with more guts than Pelosi could ever dream of having, responded, “So, there is no political inconvenience exception to the United States Constitution.”
So, here's how I see this: if any other human being in this country had done what's documented in the Mueller report, they would be arrested and put in jail. Obstruction of justice is a serious crime in this country. But Mueller believed because of the directions from Donald Trump's Justice Department that he could not bring a criminal indictment against a sitting president. I think he's wrong on that, but that's what he believed. So he serves the whole thing up to the United States Congress and says, in effect, if there's going to be any accountability, that accountability has to come from the Congress. And the tool that we are given for that accountability is the impeachment process.
Sanders proved more tempered than Warren in his response to impeachment, saying that he wanted a “full investigation” to occur, but that he didn't have faith Senate Republicans would do their due diligence. He reiterated the message that impeachment would take away from the 2020 election and possibly work in Trump's favor:
Here is my concern: At the end of the day, what is most important to me is to see that Donald Trump is not re-elected President and I intend to do everything I can to make sure that that doesn't happen.
But if for the next year all the Congress is talking about is “Trump, Trump, Trump,” and “Mueller, Mueller, Mueller” and we're not talking about health care and raising the minimum wage to a living wage and we're not talking about climate change and sexism and racism and homophobia and the issues that concern ordinary Americans, I worry that works to Trump's advantage.
Senator Harris was a bit more bold than Bernie, but still described herself as a “realist” and said that she didn't trust Republicans to follow the facts rather than toe the party line as per usual. She explained:
I think we have very good reason to believe that there is an investigation that has been conducted which has produced evidence that tells us that this President and his administration engaged in obstruction of justice. I believe Congress should take the steps towards impeachment.
The California lawmaker also said, “I believe that we need to get rid of this president. That's why I'm running to become president of the United States. That is part of the premise, obviously, of my plan.”
As the only candidate in the Town Hall not serving in Congress, Buttigieg's perspective on impeachment differed slightly … but not in any meaningful way. In the video below, he says that, “I think [Trump]s] made it pretty clear that he deserves impeachment,” but acknowledged that the process is something for Congress to deal with. In Mayor Pete's eyes, his job is to “relegate Trumpism to the dustbin of history” by beating him in the election. Buttigieg expressed concern that when we continually talk about Trump and his wrongdoing, your average American (who even is that?) feels their issues are ignored.
She's still here, folks! Klobuchar said that “we need to have hearings in both the House and the Senate and not just with Attorney General Barr” and “[t]he impeachment proceedings are up to the House.”
As a senator, she describe the role of the Senate as that of “the jury.” Her main message, though, was that one of the most important ways to hold Trump accountable “is by defeating him in the 2020 election. And I believe I can do that.”