Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, on Monday joined a growing group of Democratic 2020 presidential candidates saying that President Donald Trump should be impeached.
“He’s made it pretty clear he deserves impeachment,” Buttigieg said during a CNN town hall event after host Anderson Cooper asked about the issue.
Buttigieg stopped short of directly calling on Congress to begin such proceedings, however, saying that he would leave it to the House and Senate to “figure out.” He argued his role was to “relegate Trumpism to the dustbin of history” and said the best way to do that is by giving the president “an absolute thumping at the ballot box.”
The question of impeachment came up repeatedly during CNN town halls featuring five Democratic 2020 candidates, as the party remains divided over whether to begin steps to impeach Trump following the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Although the Mueller probe did not find that Trump or his affiliates conspired in Russia’s campaign to influence the election, the redacted report detailed 10 episodes in which Trump may have obstructed justice in trying to limit or quash the special counsel’s investigation. Mueller declined to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment on whether any of those instances amounted to a crime. Still, several top Democrats in recent days have raised calls for impeachment proceedings.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who was the first 2020 Democratic candidate to advocate for impeachment following the Mueller report, reiterated her stance on Monday night. During a town hall event, the senator argued that political considerations shouldn’t be a factor when deciding whether to launch impeachment proceedings. If any other person had acted in the way Mueller found that Trump did, they would be “arrested and put in jail,” she said.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) added herself to the pro-impeachment side on Monday as well, saying that “it is very clear that there is a lot of good evidence pointing to obstruction of justice.” Harris added that Congress should begin impeachment proceedings.
But other Democratic candidates on Monday night equivocated or warned that it could result in unwanted political backlash. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), for instance, evaded the question and said that what was important was stopping Trump’s reelection. He said a focus on impeachment above policy issues such as health care “works to Trump’s advantage.”
As the debate around impeachment grows, Trump on Monday tweeted about it for the first time, stating “there were no crimes by me (No Collusion, No Obstruction), so you can’t impeach.”