Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, on Monday joined a growing group of Democratic 2020 presidential candidates saying that President Donald Trump should be impeached.
“He’s made it pretty clear he deserves impeachment,” Buttigieg said during a CNN town hall event after host Anderson Cooper asked about the issue.
Buttigieg stopped short of directly calling on Congress to begin such proceedings, however, saying that he would leave it to the House and Senate to “figure out.” He argued his role was to “relegate Trumpism to the dustbin of history” and said the best way to do that is by giving the president “an absolute thumping at the ballot box.”
The question of impeachment came up repeatedly during CNN town halls featuring five Democratic 2020 candidates, as the party remains divided over whether to begin steps to impeach Trump following the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Although the Mueller probe did not find that Trump or his affiliates conspired in Russia’s campaign to influence the election, the redacted report detailed 10 episodes in which Trump may have obstructed justice in trying to limit or quash the special counsel’s investigation. Mueller declined to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment on whether any of those instances amounted to a crime. Still, several top Democrats in recent days have raised calls for impeachment proceedings.
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 23: Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigeig speaks during a news conference January 23, 2019 in Washington, DC. Buttigeig held a news conference to announce that he is forming an exploratory committee to run for the Democratic presidential nomination. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 547 -- Pictured: (l-r) South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg during an interview with host Seth Meyers on June 22, 2017 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, center, speaks with attendees during a campaign stop in Ankeny, Iowa, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. A flurry of proposals to slap new taxes on the ultra-wealthy, extend Medicare to all Americans and make college debt-free reflect a rapidly changing Democratic Party that sees a sharp left turn as the path to defeating President Donald Trump. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, speaks during a campaign stop in Ankeny, Iowa, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. A flurry of proposals to slap new taxes on the ultra-wealthy, extend Medicare to all Americans and make college debt-free reflect a rapidly changing Democratic Party that sees a sharp left turn as the path to defeating President Donald Trump. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
THE VIEW - Mayor of South Bend, Indiana and democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg visits ABC's 'The View' on Thursday, January 31, 2019. 'The View' airs Monday-Friday (11:00 am-12:00 noon, ET) on the ABC Television Network.
(Photo by Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC via Getty Images)
JOY BEHAR, PETER BUTTIGIEG, SUNNY HOSTIN
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is exploring a Presidential candidacy speaks at the University of Chicago on February 13, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Joshua Lott / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSHUA LOTT/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 14: 32nd Mayor of South Bend, Indiana and 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is seen arriving at 'The Late Show With Stephen Colbert' at the Ed Sullivan Theater on February 14, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 09: Pete Buttigieg speaks onstage at Conversations About America's Future: Mayor Pete Buttigieg during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater on March 8, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Hutton Supancic/Getty Images for SXSW)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 13: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and guest Pete Buttigieg during Thursday's February 14, 2019 show. (Photo by Scott Kowalchyk/CBS via Getty Images)
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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who was the first 2020 Democratic candidate to advocate for impeachment following the Mueller report, reiterated her stance on Monday night. During a town hall event, the senator argued that political considerations shouldn’t be a factor when deciding whether to launch impeachment proceedings. If any other person had acted in the way Mueller found that Trump did, they would be “arrested and put in jail,” she said.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) added herself to the pro-impeachment side on Monday as well, saying that “it is very clear that there is a lot of good evidence pointing to obstruction of justice.” Harris added that Congress should begin impeachment proceedings.
But other Democratic candidates on Monday night equivocated or warned that it could result in unwanted political backlash. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), for instance, evaded the question and said that what was important was stopping Trump’s reelection. He said a focus on impeachment above policy issues such as health care “works to Trump’s advantage.”
As the debate around impeachment grows, Trump on Monday tweeted about it for the first time, stating “there were no crimes by me (No Collusion, No Obstruction), so you can’t impeach.”