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By Lauren Rearick
The impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump took center stage at the Democratic primary debate on Tuesday (October 15). Unlike previous debates, which started off with questions about health insurance, the 12 (twelve! Yes, really!) potential presidential candidates shared their thoughts on the validity of possibly impeaching the president, and few held back.
For nearly the first 20 minutes of the debate, candidates were grilled about the possibility of impeachment, and what ramifications, if any, such a process would create for the 2020 election. (All told, the idea of impeachment was mentioned 27 times, or almost every 45 seconds.) As debate moderator Anderson Cooper pointed out, all participating candidates have previously expressed public support for impeachment, and that unanimous support continued.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren took the first question regarding impeachment and affirmed, “No one is above the law and that includes the president” — as well as the next president, and the following president, and so on and so forth. She underlined that impeachment isn’t a matter of anti-Trump sentiment, but a hard line against which any commander-in-chief should be held. (The subtext here? That includes a potential President Warren.)
Candidates continued to call out Trump directly, including Sen. Bernie Sanders who called him “the most corrupt President in history.” That assessment earned agreement from former Vice President Joe Biden, who went on to say that impeachment was the only choice.
Referring to her past tenure as a lawyer, Sen. Kamala Harris took her support of impeachment a step further, and alleged that Trump obviously committed actions worthy of investigation. “As a former prosecutor, I know a confession when I see it,” she said. “He did it in plain sight. He has given us the evidence.”
While some on Twitter, and even Senator Bernie Sanders, criticized the decision to focus so much of the debate’s opening on impeachment, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro argued that the process wasn’t a distraction. “He should be removed,” Castro said of Trump.
The debate’s opening topic comes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi filed a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump on September 24. The inquiry is only the first of many steps in the impeachment process, and talk of possibly impeaching Trump has continued since he took office in 2017. As NBC News reported, 55 percent of American voters currently support an impeachment inquiry.