Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke is calling for impeachment proceedings to begin against President Donald Trump, saying the political risks are worth having “accountability and justice” at the highest levels of government.
“It’s not something that I take lightly. It’s an incredibly serious, sober decision that we should take as a country,” O’Rourke said Tuesday during a CNN town hall in Des Moines, Iowa, his first nationally televised event since he declared his candidacy. “If we do nothing because we are afraid of the polls or the politics or the repercussions in the next election, then we will have set a precedent for this country that, in fact, some people because of the position of power and public trust that they hold are above the law.”
Several candidates, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), have voiced similar calls for impeachment while others have punted that decision to Congress or voiced hesitation, saying that impeachment would only galvanize Trump’s base.
O’Rourke said he understood why some of his colleagues were reluctant to begin formal proceedings, but if doing so impacted his chances at the White House, so be it.
“I understand the political implications of this, but I think this moment calls for us to look beyond the politics and the polling, and even the next election,” O’Rourke said. “The only way we will get the documents and the facts and the truth to be able to pursue them as far as they go, as high up as they reach, is to compel the testimony, the furnishing of those documents through impeachment proceedings. It is the only way that we’re going to get to the facts necessary to have that accountability and justice.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has so far resisted calls within her party to go down the road of impeachment following the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the 2016 presidential election. But as the Trump administration continues to flout subpoenas and congressional oversight, those requests have only grown more insistent.
Earlier this month, O’Rourke told The Dallas Morning News that for the first time he believed such proceedings should move ahead, saying “no man, regardless of his position, is above the law.”
“We’re finally learning the truth about this president. And yes, there has to be consequences. Yes, there has to be accountability,” he said at the time.
When O’Rourke was a member of Congress, he voted against opening impeachment proceedings twice.