Steyer: People have got to stop saying that, because it’s not true. In 2018, everyone says it was about health care. The reason people turned out is he tried to take away health care. It was about him. He was one vote away in the Senate from repealing the Affordable Care Act. Really, we didn’t talk about health care in 2014? Oh, I guess we didn’t talk about education in 2014. Maybe we didn’t talk about abortion rights in 2014? No. The fact was, there was a president who was threatening every single one of those things. If abortion is a big issue in 2020, which I expect it will be, is it because women all of a sudden decided, “We need control of our own bodies”? Or was it because someone’s trying to take it away? So what is this nonsense, it wasn’t about Trump?
Dovere: Another argument is that it would mean two years of Washington freezing on anything else, with the president—as he did this week—refusing to even talk with Democrats if they keep investigating him.
Yoni Appelbaum: Impeach Donald Trump
Steyer: I don’t think people in Washington see this the way I see this. You guys think this is about this parochial, partisan issue, about a president whose policies we don’t like. That’s not true. This is a fundamental attack on the United States, which, if we actually solve, will be the first step to repairing this country. Because this country is deeply divided, and we can’t seem to do anything, and this town has system failure. We’re not doing anything on immigration or gun violence or health care or climate—you name the major topic that Americans say is their No. 1 priority. There’s a deep threat to the United States of America that if we come together and solve, it’ll be the first step to solving health care. It’ll be the first step to dealing with gun violence.
It’s not about just Trump. Look, there’s something wrong here. The political system seems unable to address a very obvious attack on itself.
What we’re saying is, if in fact we can come together and do a simple thing and recognize that a deeply corrupt president should be thrown out of office—and replaced with a Republican—then we’ve taken the first step toward the idea that we actually have a government that can function.
Dovere: Have you actually read the Mueller report yourself?
Steyer: I read it. For just this reason, because I knew I’d be asked—I sat down the weekend it came out. Easter weekend. I sat there in a hotel room and read it for a day. My father was a lawyer. It reminded me of my father very, very much.
Read: The Clinton impeachment, as told by the people who lived it
Dovere: You have helped make the idea of impeachment mainstream. But do you think you’ve done anything to move the process forward in Washington?
Steyer: [House Ways and Means Chairman] Richard Neal was taking forever to ask for Trump’s tax returns. I think we sent him 96,000 emails. We were in his district going door-to-door. We had billboards. Did he know that? We know he knew it because his office called us, saying, “Look, we understand your point. Here’s what we’re going to do.” He wasn’t responding to us. He was responding to his constituents.