DES MOINES — In a state where national candidates come to say they are running for president, Tom Steyer stands apart.
Steyer, the billionaire businessman from California who had been mulling a run in the 2020 Democratic primary, announced Wednesday he would not seek the presidency in 2020.
He made the announcement in West Des Moines.
Steyer will instead focus on mobilizing support for the impeachment of Republican President Donald Trump.
“Most people come to Iowa around this time to announce their campaign for the presidency. But I’m proud to be here to announce that I will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to remove a president,” Steyer said.
The field of Democratic presidents is expected to be large — possibly as many as two dozen or more.
The press conference was one of three events Steyer held or attended Wednesday in Central Iowa. He also attended a lunch with the Iowa Latino and Asian Coalition at the Capitol in Des Moines, and an education town hall at a community college campus in the Des Moines suburb of Ankeny.
Steyer said his “Need to Impeach” campaign will be successful when the Democrat-led U.S. House of Representatives begins impeachment proceedings, or when Trump resigns or is removed from office.
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He said he will commit $40 million this year to that campaign, which will include a public education initiative, town hall events across the country, a summit in Washington, D.C., and mobilizing voters to press their federal representatives. The grassroots efforts will focus in districts home to key House committee members and in states where Republican senators are up for re-election in 2020. The latter includes Iowa, where Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst is up for re-election.
“The simple truth is Mr. Trump has repeatedly abused the powers of the presidency, and the Constitution demands accountability,’ Steyer said.
Steyer says Trump’s impeachment-worthy actions include, among others, obstructing justice regarding Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, benefiting personally and financially from foreign governments and officials when foreign government leaders stay at Trump hotels, abusing his power with the pardon of controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and directing government agencies to investigate political opponents.
“The debate over whether or not grounds for impeachment exist is over. He met the criteria long ago,” Steyer said. “The question remaining is what Congress will do.”
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, like Steyer a California Democrat, recently told NBC News that House Democrats will wait for the results of the Mueller investigation before deciding whether to impeach Trump.