GLENDALE, Calif. ― Hundreds of people showed up to support billionaire Tom Steyer’s calls for impeaching Donald Trump at a town hall Tuesday, despite a recent summary of Robert Mueller’s report that appeared to clear the president of criminally conspiring with the Russian government in his 2016 campaign.
“This is the most corrupt president in American history, and we know that, everyone knows that,” Steyer told a crowd of over 200 people from the Los Angeles area, many of them constituents of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).
Trump “obstructed justice, everybody knows that, too,” he added, as the crowd cheered. ”We want to see the Mueller report. When we see this kind of criminality and the kind of people the president surrounds himself with, that’s a chance for Americans to decide for ourselves what we think, and that’s what we believe in.”
The event at a Glendale banquet hall, one of many town halls hosted by the Democratic activist’s political organization, Need to Impeach, brought together passionate Democrats who think Trump should not be in office.
Steyer, who ruled out a presidential bid in January, has become the voice of the movement to impeach Trump. He has also helped mobilize voters: He spent tens of millions of dollars during the midterm election, with groups he backed ultimately contacting roughly 15 million voters. The megadonor said in a statement in January that he will spend at least $40 million on impeachment efforts against Trump this year.
It marked Steyer’s fifth town hall held in the district of an influential Democrat. He previously hosted events in the districts of Reps. Jerry Nadler (N.Y.), Elijah Cummings (Md.), Richard Neal (Mass), and James Clyburn (S.C.).
Mueller, a former FBI director, completed the roughly two-year special counsel investigation on March 24. Attorney General William Barr, who was confirmed on Feb. 14, subsequently sent a four-page letter to Congress last week summarizing what he found to be the key points.
According to Barr, Mueller did not find that Trump colluded with the Russian government to influence the election’s outcome. However, the summary said the report did not exonerate the president on the issue of obstruction of justice. Still, Trump and his allies have claimed “total exoneration” in the aftermath of the summary’s release.
There are still many unanswered questions about the roughly 380-page report, which Barr said he would make public in “a couple weeks,” meaning sometime in April. Democrats in Congress had set an April 2 deadline.
The Mueller report was on the mind of attendees, some who came to voice their concerns to Steyer about whether they had too much faith that the special counsel’s investigation would lead to impeachment proceedings.
“Did we drink the Kool-Aid about Mueller?” one audience member asked Steyer. “I didn’t know much about him, and I thought, ‘Oh, my God, he’s our saving grace’... this guy who we thought was going to tell us the truth. How did he spend millions of dollars and 2½ years and not come up with this?”
“We don’t know. We don’t have the Mueller report,” Steyer said. “All we know is that a guy who auditioned to be attorney general by saying he didn’t believe the president could obstruct justice told us the president didn’t obstruct justice.”
Steyer also urged attendees to voice their concerns to lawmakers, including Schiff.
Before the event, Need to Impeach organizers handed out blank postcards to attendees to fill out and send to elected officials to either thank them or encourage them to continue investigating Trump.
Schiff, a longtime Trump foe, has come under fire by Republicans for his remarks regarding Barr’s report. All nine Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee called on Schiff to resign as its chairman after he stood by his belief that Trump colluded with the Russians.
“One of the reasons we are here is to thank Adam Schiff,” Steyer said during the event. “I think he needs to know the people in his district, his constituents, have his back.”
“Yes!” the crowd yelled in response.
Democratic leaders have pushed back on efforts to impeach Trump.
“Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told The Washington Post in March. “And he’s just not worth it.”
She previously called Steyer’s impeachment efforts “a waste of time and money.”
At the event, one attendee said that, though she was a fan of Steyer, she was “concerned” by the division between Pelosi and Steyer’s beliefs on impeachment.
“Let me say that Speaker Pelosi is my congressperson, so I’ve known her a long time, I have voted for her for a long time,” Steyer said in response. ”And on this we haven’t just started to disagree, we disagreed all through 2018.”
He said Pelosi and other Democrats had a ”sense of concern” that by pushing impeachment, “we were going to invigorate turnout by Republicans, and that would enable them to hold on to the House.”
But, Steyer argued, “I have never wondered about whether this movement was going to help Democrats to win. I know it is.”
Most in the audience seemed to back Steyer’s viewpoint.
At one point during the town hall, an attendee stood up to hold a Trump 2020 flag. While Steyer let the woman speak about why she is a Trump supporter, most in the audience booed.
A handful of attendees also sported “Need to Impeach” stickers and T-shirts, which were also handed out at the event.
“I feel like until Trump is removed, we are all prisoners inside his tortured, paranoid mind and ego. He’s capable of utterly destroying this country at the slightest whim,” Michele Eason, who brought an “Indict Impeach Imprison Lock Them Up” sign, told HuffPost.
It was Eason’s first time seeing Steyer in person, and she said she was “grateful” for his efforts.
“I don’t think we need any more politically inexperienced billionaires running for office,” she said. “But I love what Tom’s doing, and I’m grateful for him doing this with his time and money.”
When asked whether she wanted to see the full Mueller report, Eason’s reply was simply: “Oh, God, yes.”
“The minute I have access to it, I’ll probably call in sick to work, and my boss would probably support me,” she added.
Rosalie Salvato, another attendee who is also a constituent of Schiff, said she was also eager to see the Mueller report.
“Barr auditioned for the job” of attorney general, she said, calling his summary of Mueller’s report “a scam.” “We had a Republican Senate, we knew he was going to get confirmed, he’s carrying out what Trump wants him to do. We’ve got to get that report because what Barr stated is not true.”