Tom Steyer defends impeachment push on The View, discusses 2020 presidential bid

The billionaire activist pledged to spend $100 million on his presidential bid.

August 1, 2019, 11:57 AM

Tom Steyer, the liberal billionaire activist who launched a presidential bid last month despite previously saying he would not run, joined ABC's "The View" Thursday to discuss his path to the Democratic nomination and the best way to defeat President Trump.

Steyer also reacted to the latest round of Democratic primary debates, making clear that while he would support any of the candidates over Trump, he still believes the party is not dealing with the issue of corporate influence on American politics.

"To me, the biggest question in America is the corporate takeover of our government," Steyer said. "We have a government that can't get anything done. Because corporations have bought it."

PHOTO: Tom Steyer appears on "The View," Aug. 01, 2019.
Tom Steyer appears on "The View," Aug. 01, 2019.

Steyer has spent the better half of the last two years pushing Democratic leaders in Congress to pursue impeachment proceedings against Trump, spending tens of millions of dollars on a pressure campaign.

Despite the hesitation by Democratic leaders in Congress and tepid support in most polls, the candidate defended his position on impeachment Thursday.

"I think when there's a question of right or wrong...and you're not sure how it's gonna work out, you do the right thing," Steyer said. "I said a month ago, cancel the congressional vacation for 44 days, hold a series of televised hearings so we get the truth out to the American people. Let us see the truth, we'll really, in the in the last analysis, be the judge and jury. Let Americans decide."

When pressed on fate of possible impeachment push in the Senate, Steyer said, "If enough constituents in those districts decide that it's absolutely imperative to get rid of the president, I think all the senators will discover that it's absolutely imperative."

When asked why he changed his mind on a presidential bid, Steyer said he "couldn't sleep" after forgoing a run, adding that climate change and corporate control over the government were the two issues that animated him to run.

"I really couldn't sleep. I changed my mind...I think we're dealing with the two real issues that are standing between us and the greatest society anybody can ever imagine. And that is one, we really need to break the corporate stranglehold on our government, and two we need to stabilize the climate," Steyer said about his change of heart.

In a tense exchange, co-host Meghan McCain confronted Steyer, telling him that his campaign message does not resonate with her. But in an interview backstage the billionaire activist insisted that his message is reaching Americans.

“If you you look at what's happening in polling data in the first two, or three weeks after we announced -- it is resonating,” Steyer told ABC News. “I can try harder to reach Meghan McCain, and she's somebody who I respect. But I think that overall Americans are hearing it.“

Pledging to spend over $100 million of his own money on his campaign, Steyer has already been flooding the airways with television advertisements targeting Trump and introducing himself to the American people.

PHOTO:Billionaire investor and Democratic activist Tom Steyer steps on a stage at the start of a "Need to Impeach" town hall event, in Agawam, Mass., March 13, 2019.
Billionaire investor and Democratic activist Tom Steyer steps on a stage at the start of a "Need to Impeach" town hall event, in Agawam, Mass., March 13, 2019.
Steven Senne/AP, FILE

“Donald Trump failed as a businessman," Steyer says in his most recent ad. "He borrowed billions and left a trail of bankruptcy and broken promises. He hasn't changed. I started a tiny investment business and over 27 years, grew it successfully to $36 billion...I'm running for president because unlike other candidates, I can go head to head with Donald Trump on the economy and expose them for what he is a fraud and a failure.”

Boosting his name recognition and getting his face in front of more voters will be the key to success for the first phrase of Steyer's campaign, as he needs over 130,000 individual donors and 2% or more support in four national or early state polls to qualify for the next round of Democratic debates in September and October, per rules set forth by the Democratic National Committee.

Steyer already has two polls that qualify him for the next debates, but when pressed would only say that he is "on schedule" to achieve the grassroots fundraising threshold.

"We're on schedule on that," Steyer told ABC News in a recent interview, "I'm happy that the message that I'm pushing forward about action, about taking on the corporations, about restoring democracy is resonating with people."

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