Government

Capitol Ideas: Tom Steyer comes to Iowa, talks impeachment

Tom Steyer speaks at a tour stop at the Shores Event Center in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, May 10, 2018. Steyer has been traveling across the country making the case for the impeachment of President Donald Trump. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Tom Steyer speaks at a tour stop at the Shores Event Center in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, May 10, 2018. Steyer has been traveling across the country making the case for the impeachment of President Donald Trump. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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Tom Steyer says he understands why many Democratic officials are hesitant to join his call for Congress to impeach Republican President Donald Trump.

But Steyer feels the stakes are too high to stop.

“We think that telling the truth and protecting the democracy is maybe even more important than the midterms,” Steyer said during an interview this week with the bureau.

Steyer, the liberal billionaire businessman from California and Democratic mega-donor, was in Iowa this week to lead efforts by his organization NextGen America to register and motivate young people to vote. Steyer participated in events on the Drake University and University of Iowa campuses.

During an interview in Des Moines, Steyer talked about his calls for Trump to be impeached and whether he may run for president himself next year.

Steyer says Trump should be impeached — Steyer’s television ads have been running in Iowa, and an online petition from his other political organization, Need to Impeach, has nearly 6 million signatures — because he feels Trump has obstructed justice, personally profited from the government while serving as president, and conspired to commit crimes against the United States.

National Democratic leaders — including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, another Californian — have not been so fast to call for Trump’s impeachment, although the potential may increase if Democrats take over the majority in the U.S. House in this fall’s midterm elections.

Steyer said he thinks those Democratic leaders are making a political calculation about how some voters would react to Democrats leading impeachment proceedings.

“Look, the United States is under threat. We’re telling the truth, and we’re trying to stand up for the democracy and the people,” Steyer said. “And you’re telling us that your pollster in March said that was a bad idea? Really? Because when was the last time your pollster was right? That’s a crazy thing to say, from our point of view.”

Steyer said he also thinks talking about impeachment will motivate new voters, especially those who say they feel the federal government is corrupt.

“I think telling the truth about important things is what is the important thing to do, and it will be the successful thing to do,” Steyer said.

Steyer has not ruled out running for president. During the interview, he made one of those comments that makes Iowa reporters suspect the person is seriously considering it: He noted his family connection to Iowa. Steyer said he has an aunt in Iowa City who he was planning to visit during his trip.

Other than that, Steyer avoided the 2020 question by noting so much remains unknown about what the country and federal government will look like after this fall’s midterm elections.

“We need to know what happens on Nov. 6 to figure (that) out,” Steyer said. “I definitely want to be working full-time for justice in America. ... I need to figure out what the best thing I can do, what’s the most effective thing that I can do knowing that I want to work full-time for justice.”

Gesing to lead 50-50 board

Melissa Gesing, a political activist and recent president of the Iowa Federation of Republican Women, has been named the new executive director of 50-50 in 2020, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping women get elected to public office in Iowa.

Gesing has served on 50-50 in 2020’s board.

“I am thrilled to be leading 50-50 in 2020, especially during this time of historical significance when record-breaking numbers of women are running for office, and I’m looking for this momentum to build,” Gesing said in a statement. “It is an honor to lead a nonpartisan organization with a board comprised of bipartisan women, since political cooperation is more important than ever.”

Gesing replaces Mary Ellen Miller, who became the organization’s first executive director in 2014.

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l Erin Murphy covers Iowa politics and government for Lee Enterprises. His email address is erin.murphy@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter at @ErinDMurphy

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