California billionaire Tom Steyer will visit Seattle next week in the latest stop on his 30-city tour drumming up support to impeach President Donald Trump.
Steyer, a climate activist who has been a deep-pocketed ally of Gov. Jay Inslee, will hold a town hall at Sodo Park, a rental venue in the city’s SoDo district starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 12.
Steyer founded an organization called Need to Impeach, which is demanding that Congress act to remove Trump via the impeachment process. He kicked off his town hall series in March, and has held events across the country, most recently in Minneapolis.
Under the Constitution, presidents can be impeached with a simple majority vote of the U.S. House of Representatives. That triggers a trial in the U.S. Senate, which can remove the president from office with a two-thirds vote. The last president to be impeached was Bill Clinton, who prevailed in the Senate trial and remained in office.
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Steyer contends Trump has committed a host of impeachable offenses, from profiting off the presidency to obstructing justice and undermining the freedom of the press. Steyer reportedly has invested $40 million in the impeachment campaign, including television ads. Need to Impeach spokesman Erik Olvera said the San Francisco-based organization has 40 paid staffers.
Trump attacked Steyer in a tweet last fall, calling him “wacky & totally unhinged.”
Despite the loathing of Trump by the Democratic rank-and-file, elected Democratic officials and candidates have trod more carefully as the 2018 midterms approach.
Steyer’s group cites a Quinnipiac poll in which 70 percent of Democrats said they support impeaching Trump. But of Washington’s six Democratic U.S. House members, only Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, voted in favor of a resolution supporting impeachment earlier this year.
And this week, Democrats running in a Washington’s pivotal 8th Congressional District race to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, stopped short of pledging to impeach Trump — even while seeming to strongly hint at it.
A spokesman for Jason Rittereiser, an attorney and former prosecutor running for the seat, said, “Jason believes very strongly that no one is above the law, and he is committed to holding Trump accountable for his actions and the Trump administration accountable to the rule of law.”
Kim Schrier, an Issaquah pediatrician and the leading fundraiser among Democrats in the 8th District race, said through a spokeswoman that Republicans cannot be trusted “to put country ahead of party” when it comes to Trump. Schrier added, “We must let the Mueller investigation play out so that all facts are laid bare and we understand exactly how far this corruption extends.”
The third leading Democrat in the race, former federal public-health official Shannon Hader, said in an emailed statement: “I’m a person who has built a career on fact-based decision-making. I don’t have a crystal ball for January 2019, but I do believe that completion of the Special Counsel investigation and the facts uncovered will be important to any impeachment deliberations.”
Hader added: “That said, we already know that this Congress has done nothing to keep the President in check. It’s time to elect people to Congress who will hold him accountable …”
Even Inslee, a Steyer ally on climate issues and a fierce critic of Trump, has not called for his impeachment, according to spokespersons for his gubernatorial and campaign offices.
“He hasn’t commented” on impeachment, said Jamal Raad, a spokesman for Inslee’s political role as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.
In a statement, state Republican Party Chairman Caleb Heimlich called Steyer’s impeachment effort “just another scheme fueled by the bad attitude of a sore loser.”
“Tom Steyer has a history of misleading and outright lying to voters in Washington State to promote his ultraliberal, billionaire agenda by attempting to buy our elections for far-left candidates that do not share our values — and the voters are smarter than that,” Heimlich said.
Steyer’s impeachment town hall on Tuesday is free and open to the public, but space is limited and attendees must RSVP at the Need to Impeach website, according to organizers.