Billionaire claims Democratic establishment sweeping Trump offenses 'under the rug'

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Billionaire activist Tom Steyer won't call it a litmus test.

But he says Democrats in Congress and those running for office should pay attention to his petition advocating President Donald Trump's impeachment.

"The American people are supposed to be running this country...If that's inconvenient, if that disturbs people's plans, then so be it," Steyer said on ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast.

"Sitting Republican senators in the past month have said much harsher things about this president than we've ever said," he said. "We're just giving the American people a chance to voice their opinion that something should be done about it and it shouldn't just be swept under the rug and pretend it's not happening."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi talked about the push for impeachment proceedings on CNN's State of the Union, saying, "It is not some place that I think we should go." If the Democrats take back control of the House in 2018, Pelosi said their responsibility will be to unify the nation.

Speaking in one of his own ads, Steyer frames what he believes to be ground for Trump's impeachment. "[Trump] has brought us to the brink of nuclear war, obstructed justice at the FBI, and in direct violation of the Constitution has taken money from foreign governments and threatened to shut down news organizations that report the truth," Steyer says in the ad.

"I say to people 'He is robbing the liquor store in plain daylight'," Steyer tells ABC News. "He's definitely met the criteria and he is a threat to the American people. The question is why aren't people willing to stand up and say that? I don't understand it."

The eight-figure ad buy is aimed at drumming up support for a petition that so far 1.9 million people have signed, according to a Steyer spokesperson. Fox News Channel has said it will no longer air the ad after negative viewer reaction, including a tweet from Trump himself calling Steyer "wacky" and "totally unhinged".

Steyer to Trump: "Excuse me?"

Trump's tweet criticizing Steyer on October 27 claims Steyer has "been fighting me and my Make American Great Again agenda from beginning" and "never wins elections!"

Steyer points to Tuesday's Democratic gains in Virginia and New Jersey as evidence Trump was wrong.

"I would say 'excuse me?'" Steyer said. "He got resoundingly put down. We had a great night." Steyer said the election results were a validation of his call to impeach Trump and a repudiation of the idea it should be swept under the rug.

"This was a wave election," he said. Steyer said the size and scope of the victory was a rejection of the Trump administration. "People are outraged by what's going on. They're scared. They think the bigotry is as un-American as anything they've seen in their lifetime, and they want a change."

2018 Game Plan? Steyer says it's not "rocket science"

Steyer says the Trump administration will be on the ballot in 2018, but Democrats also need to have a positive vision to counter Trumpism.

"The simplest way to think about it is: in the 21st century, if this country is going to succeed, than the people of this country have to succeed," he said. "And we have to invest in the people -- whether its education or healthcare or training or food for kids in school. If you look at the Trump budget, he cuts every part of that."

Steyer's ad campaign could boost his profile if he were to run for office himself.

In response to speculation that Steyer could contest Democrat California senator Dianne Feinstein's run for California governor, or launch a presidential bid in 2020, Steyer says that's not his motivation.

"My question is what can I do to make a difference?" Steyer said. "I think we're in a political crisis."

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