Gordon Sondland’s bombshell testimony at the impeachment hearings on Wednesday overshadowed the Democratic debate, as candidates were immediately grilled on the question of removing President Donald Trump from office.
Moderator Rachel Maddow asked Elizabeth Warren whether she would try build Republican support for Trump’s removal if impeachment passes the House and goes to the Senate for a trial.
“Of course I will,” she said.
But Warren — along with other candidates — addressed impeachment, but then quickly moved on to variations of their stump speeches.
Warren tied Sondland’s testimony to one of her campaign themes — the influence of money in politics. She noted that Sondland became the ambassador to the European Union only after donating $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee. She said it showed “how money buys its way in Washington.” She has called for the elimination of the practice of appointing top donors as ambassadors, a longtime tradition of both parties.
Bernie Sanders said that Trump was “likely the most corrupt president in the modern history of America.”
But he said that “we cannot be consumed with Donald Trump or we will lose the election.” He pointed to an array of other issues important to working class Americans, including wealth inequality.
“What the American people understand is that Congress can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time,” Sanders said.
Amy Klobuchar said that there is the evidence so far that Trump “committed an impeachable offense.” But she said that senators still had to act as jurors and “look at each count and make a decision.”
Pete Buttigieg said that Trump had already “confessed” to an impeachable offense on television, and pointed to the recent Trump Foundation settlement of New York state claims that it engaged in illegal practices for a charitable organization. He said that Trump “confessed to illegally diverting charitable contributions that were supposed to go to veterans.”
As he has in his stump speeches, he talked about the “tender moment” after Trump is out of office, with the challenge of how to unify the country.
Kamala Harris said that “we have a criminal living in the White House. She said that that “before we get to that “tender moment,” the biggest issue is “justice is on the ballot.”
Joe Biden noted that the impeachment inquiry was focused on Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate he and his son. What it showed, he said, is that “number one, Donald Trump doesn’t want me to be the nominee.”
“He held up aid to make sure that while at the same time innocent people are getting killed by Russian soldiers. Secondly, I found out that Vladimir Putin doesn’t want me to be president.”
The debate, sponsored by MSNBC and The Washington Post and held at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, was the first to feature four female moderators: The network’s Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, Hallie Jackson and The Washington Post’s Ashley Parker.
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