Former hedge fund owner turned political activist Tom Steyer explains why he's taken up the cause of impeaching President Trump. He says there are eight impeachable offenses, from taking what amount to foreign bribes to obstruction of justice.

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No U.S. President has been removed from office through impeachment. That isn’t stopping California billionaire Tom Steyer from trying to make President Donald J. Trump the first to win that distinction.

Steyer, who was in Seattle Tuesday for a town hall stop on his nationwide “Need to Impeach” tour, joins host Jim Brunner on Episode 83 of The Overcast, the Seattle Times weekly politics podcast, to discuss the cause to which he’s pledged a reported $40 million.

Just two U.S. presidents have actually been subjected to impeachment proceedings: Andrew Johnson in 1868, and Bill Clinton in 1998. Both men were acquitted in Senate impeachment trials; Johnson by a single vote. Of course, Richard Nixon famously resigned facing the certainty he would have been impeached and convicted.

The bar for removal from office is high: requiring a two-thirds vote in the U.S. Senate. So why has Steyer devoted part of his hedge-fund fortune to taking on this cause?

“I thought that the most important political fact in the U.S. today is that we have a reckless, lawless and dangerous president who is putting our democracy at risk and putting the future of our country at risk,” Steyer says.

Steyer says there was no single act by Trump that spurred him to action, but contends the president has showed a pattern of lawlessness – from obstructing the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, to attacks on the free press and illegally accepting bribes from foreign governments in the form of deals with Trump’s businesses.

“It was more a question of waiting to see if someone else would do this, and kind of holding my breath hoping that someone else would pick up the banner and start walking across the field,” he says.

Some top national Democrats have derided Steyer’s effort – including David Axelrod, a senior adviser to President Obama, who called the effort a display of egotism.

Steyer responds with a barrage of criticism at Beltway elitists. It’s a populist anti-D.C. rap that sounds just a bit like Trump himself.

We’re not giving away the whole interview here. You must listen, because that is how podcasts work. If you don’t like it, feel free to impeach this article in the comment section.

But here’s sample of other questions lobbed at Steyer:

  • As a California hedge-fund billionaire, is he really the best messenger for this cause? Isn’t he one of the elites that Trump ran against?
  • Will this impeachment talk backfire against Democrats trying to retake control of Congress in the 2018 midterms?
  • Why did most House Democrats, including all but one of Washington’s members of the House, vote against an impeachment resolution?
  • Why does Steyer think Trump’s constitutional use of his pardon authority is grounds for impeachment?
  • Is Steyer – or his political ally, Gov. Jay Inslee – prepping for a presidential run in 2020?

The episode was recorded at the Seattle studios of public radio KNKX 88.5 FM.

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