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Steyer brings his push to impeach Trump to town halls across the nation

Steyer brings his push to impeach Trump to town halls across the nation
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ARLINGTON, Va. — Democratic billionaire mega-donor Tom Steyer is bringing his national campaign to impeach President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Memo: The Obamas unbound, on race Iran says onus is on US to rejoin nuclear deal on third anniversary of withdrawal Assaults on Roe v Wade increasing MORE from the airwaves to in-person town halls across the country.

On Tuesday night, about 100 people attended Steyer’s town hall in Arlington, Va., just a few miles outside of the nation’s capital. The event is part of a series of 30 town halls that kicked off last week in Ohio, a perennial swing state Trump won in 2016.

At his town hall series, Steyer is making an appeal to Americans for what he describes as the “patriotic case for impeachment.” He’s championed that effort with his “Need to Impeach” campaign, urging members of Congress to support impeachment. He’s already spent more than $20 million running ads and his petition has garnered more than 5 million signatures.

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Steyer has repeatedly condemned Trump for “his failure to respond” to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. And he referred to Trump’s latest assault on special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE as yet another example of why he’s a “dangerous and lawless president” and why he believes there is ground for impeachment.

“I think over the last week, we’ve seen that the pace of those events has picked up really dramatically and I would expect that increasing pace and escalation would continue,” Steyer told the packed hotel room overlooking the Pentagon.

“We always felt that for people who weren’t convinced, the more that time passed and the more that events transpired, the more right we’d be proved.”

Over the weekend, Trump unleashed a series of tweets attacking Mueller directly, calling the investigation into potential ties between his campaign and Russia a “witch hunt.” His criticisms have prompted speculation that he could fire Mueller, which has received pushback from even some Republicans.

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeThe unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  Cindy McCain: Arizona election audit is 'ludicrous' The Republicans' deep dive into nativism MORE (R-Ariz.), who’s a vocal critic of Trump, said on Tuesday he’d support impeachment if the president fired Mueller “without cause.” Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamLindsey Graham: GOP can't 'move forward without President Trump' House to advance appropriations bills in June, July The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  MORE (R-S.C.) echoed that sentiment, saying it’d “probably” be an impeachable offense.

Most attendees appeared supportive of impeachment, with many in the audience venting frustrations with Democratic elected officials who haven’t rallied behind the push.

Impeachment hasn’t drawn unanimous support from Democrats on Capitol Hill. House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDefense lawyers for alleged Capitol rioters to get tours of U.S. Capitol Gaetz, Greene tout push to oust Cheney: 'Maybe we're the leaders' Free Speech Inc.: The Democratic Party finds a new but shaky faith in corporate free speech MORE (D-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOn The Money: Weekly jobless claims fall to 498K, hitting new post-lockdown low | House to advance appropriations bills in June, July House to consider anti-Asian hate crimes bill, protections for pregnant workers this month Top Democrat: Bill to boost Capitol security likely to advance this month MORE (D-Md.) have cautioned that calls for impeachment are premature. They also argue that calls for impeachment risk turning off more moderate voters in GOP-friendly territory in the midterms.

One attendee asked why a number of Democrats aren’t “protecting democracy” by supporting impeachment.

“It’s considered dangerous for someone to tell the truth,” Steyer said. “They’re saying it’s politically inconvenient for me, and we’re saying … this is an important truth for Americans to stand up for.”

When asked about what the Democratic Party thinks of Steyer, he bluntly responded that he doesn’t know what the party “means” now that the party is no longer occupying the White House.

“When Barack was president I knew what the party meant. He kind of defined what we were,” Steyer said, referring to former President Obama.

“There are people who are elected officials within the Democratic Party who are trying to figure out how to play poker and that gets in their way of telling the truth because they’ve gotten so out of practice of telling hard truths because they think in the short run it’s not going to pay off.”

Steyer noted that, at previous town halls, he’s been consistently asked why he’s not engaging with elected officials over the matter. The environmental activist said they’re not “soliciting” politicians because they’re more worried about their political futures.

“In all cases, the elected officials are looking at their own ability to get reelected, it comes before your interest, my interest and the interest of the American people,” Steyer said. “Really what we’re trying to do is direct democracy.”

As the town hall wrapped up, an attendee shouted out a questions about Steyer's political future: “When are you announcing your candidacy for president?”

Steyer, 60, who is rumored to be a potential presidential contender in 2020, didn’t engage or acknowledge the question. He has ruled out a run for office this cycle, but is planning to be a significant power player for Democrats in the midterm elections.

Steyer's pledged to spend about $30 million to help Democrats take back the House in the fall. The party needs to win about two dozen seats to regain the majority. That spending will be geared toward voter outreach of millennials in 10 states.

And he announced an additional $7 million investment to turn out young voters in California and Florida, which are both home to a handful of competitive House races that are key to winning back the House. It’ll also be used to help boost Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonDemocrats cool on Crist's latest bid for Florida governor Crist launches bid for Florida governor, seeking to recapture his old job The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Trump, Cheney trade jabs MORE (D-Fla.) in his closely watched reelection, as well as electing a progressive candidate in Florida’s open-seat governor’s race.