The fourth Democratic Presidential debate started with an obvious topic – the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
Asked by moderator Anderson Cooper why Congress shouldn’t just put impeachment off and let voters decide next year, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said that “Sometimes there are issues that are bigger than politics, and I think that is the case with this impeachment inquiry.”
“The president has left the Congress with no choice,” said South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg. “And this is not just about holding the president accountable, for not just the things emerging in these investigations, but actions that he has confessed to on television.”
“As a former prosecutor, I know a confession when I see it,” said Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). “And he did it in plain sight. He has given us the evidence. And he tried to cover it up, putting it in that special server. And there’s been a clear consciousness of guilt.”
In the month that has passed since the last debate, Democrats in the House launched an impeachment inquiry of Trump. It centers on a July 17 phone call in which Trump asked the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company when his father was vice president.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who came out in favor of impeachment last week, said “the fact is that this president of the United States has gone so far as to say, since this latest event, that, in fact, he will not cooperate in any way at all, will not list any witnesses, will not provide any information, will not do anything to cooperate with the impeachment. They have no choice but to move.”
Biden also addressed Trump’s claims against him and his son. “My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong,” he said. “I carried out the policy of the United States government in rooting out corruption in Ukraine.”
Earlier on Tuesday, ABC News aired an interview with Hunter Biden, in which he defended his work with the Ukrainian company but said that he showed “poor judgment” in that it gave his father’s opponents political ammunition.
Asked twice whether it was OK for his son to work for the company while he was vice president, he said, “My son’s statement speaks for itself. I did my job. I never discussed a single thing with my son about anything having do with Ukraine.” Hunter Biden said that he would not work for foreign companies if his father is elected.
Support for impeachment was not unanimous. Although she favors the impeachment inquiry, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) warned that ‘If impeachment is driven by these hyper partisan interests, it will only further divide an already divided country.” She said that Trump will be able to treat an acquittal vote in the Senate as an exoneration.
A record number of candidates are on the stage – 12. Minutes before the debate started, Jake Tapper said, in an amused tone, that it was “the most candidates on one stage in the history of mankind.”
That has created some consternation among campaigns. At a fundraiser last week in Los Angeles, Biden said he thought that the “deal” would be that no more than 10 would be on the stage. If more candidates qualified, they would be split up into two nights.
“At least if you had a debate with five other people you might actually get a chance to say something,” Biden said.
The event is taking place at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. This is CNN’s second time at bat hosting a debate this cycle, having also telecast the July debate, which was spread out into two nights.
The debate also marked the first major public appearance of Bernie Sanders since he suffered a heart attack.
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