Environmental activist and Democratic mega-donor Tom Steyer is spending $10 million on a national TV campaign calling for the impeachment of President Trump, CNN reports, and the group released its first ad on Thursday. The commercial features Steyer himself accusing Trump of various impeachable offenses, and calling on Republican lawmakers to reject party unity and begin the process of removing Trump from office.
"He's brought us to the bring of nuclear war, obstructed justice at the FBI, and in direct violation of the Constitution, he's taken money from foreign governments and threatened to shut down news organizations that report the truth," a concerned-looking Steyer says in the ad. "If that isn't a case for impeaching and removing a dangerous president, then what has our government become?"
Need To Impeach, the group behind the effort, has a letter on its website outlining the case for Trump's impeachment. It accuses the president of "sabotaging the Affordable Care Act — a law he is constitutionally obligated to faithfully execute," threatening to withhold aid from Americans living in post-hurricane Puerto Rico, and risking nuclear war by taunting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Twitter.
"Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, a co-author of the Federalist Papers — and an immigrant himself — argued that 'high crimes and misdemeanors' could be defined as 'abuse or violation of some public trust,'" the letter reads. "This president has clearly already exceeded these standards. Congress has impeached past presidents for far less."
The letter also refers readers to the writings of Noah Feldman, a Constitutional law professor at Harvard who's made the case for impeaching Trump in various places on several occasions. Feldman argued that several of Trump's actions amount to impeachable offenses: His claim that Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, his renting of Trump hotel properties to foreign governments (which some believe violates the Constitution's emoluments clause and is currently the subject of a court battle), his admission that he fired FBI Director James Comey for investigating the Russia scandal, and many other things.
Whenever a political advocacy campaign pops, it's wise to look at who's funding it, and it's no surprise to see Steyer putting his money behind an effort like this. A longtime environmental activist and donor to Democratic campaigns, Steyer ran ads against Trump before the election and has continued criticizing him since.
It's also probably worth noting that Steyer has reportedly mulled a political run of his own. After passing on a Senate run in 2016, he's now reported to be contemplating a campaign for either the California governorship or Dianne Feinstein's Senate seat, both of which will be on the ballot in 2018. Steyer also refused to rule out a 2020 presidential run in a September interview with the Atlantic, telling the magazine only that he "will do whatever I think is the most impactful thing that I can do to push what I believe in terms of values and vision. If Steyer does have political ambitions of his own, his new ad campaign could serve a dual purpose by both advancing the Trump impeachment effort and simultaneously bolstering Steyer's own progressive bona fides and name recognition in California and beyond.
As of now, though, he seems squarely focused on getting Trump removed from office. In addition to starting the Need To Impeach campaign, Steyer recently sent a letter to Democrats in Congress demanding that they go on the record supporting the impeachment of Trump. Democrats may have a hard time rejecting that request, given that Steyer was the single biggest liberal donor in the last two federal election cycles, according to the New York Times.
"A Republican Congress once impeached a president for far less, yet today, people in Congress and his own administration know that this president is a clear and present danger, who's mentally unstable and armed with nuclear weapons — and they do nothing," Steyer says in the ad. "Join us, and tell your member of Congress that they have a moral responsibility to stop doing what's political and start doing what's right."