Tom Steyer, billionaire anti-Trump activist, says he won't run for president but vows $40M impeachment push

Tom Steyer, billionaire anti-Trump activist, says he won't run for president but vows $40M impeachment push

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Billionaire Tom Steyer, the outspoken liberal megadonor and former hedge fund manager who has led a campaign for President Trump’s immediate impeachment, will not run for president in 2020, he announced Wednesday.

Instead, Steyer, who spoke at an event in Des Moines, Iowa, declared that he will undertake and oversee a laundry list of activities in 2019 aimed at removing Trump from office.

Among Steyer’s goals: a “multi-million dollar digital initiative aimed at informing the public and members of Congress about the 10 impeachable offenses that Trump has already committed,” town halls across the country, and even an “impeachment summit in late January that will bring more than 250 supporters from across the country to D.C. together to learn about historical precedent for impeachment.”

That summit, Steyer promised, would be followed by an “advocacy day that will include impeachment summit participants fanning out across Capitol Hill to hand deliver articles of impeachment drafted by legal scholars to members of Congress with the simple message: “We did half the work, now it’s up to you to finish the job.””

Steyer vowed to “spend 100% of his time and energy focused on removing Donald Trump from power” through the group Need to Impeach, which he founded in October 2017. He committed to spending $40 million on the effort to have Trump removed from office in 2019.

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“This is the biggest issue in American politics today,” Steyer said in his speech Wednesday. “We have a lawless president in the White House who is eroding our democracy and it is only going to get worse. Donald Trump’s removal from power ultimately decides whether or not we can tackle every other challenge we face in America — and whether or not we continue to live in a democracy of, for, and by the people. It is past time for members of Congress to fulfill their constitutional duty. The question remaining is what will Congress do?”

Steyer had been considered by many to be a potential contender for the White House, and had taken apparent steps in that direction. In recent months he ran television advertisements in which he appeared personally to call for Trump’s removal, appeared at numerous political events, and even named a potential campaign manager.

In early December, Steyer laid the groundwork for a political platform, speaking alongside a panel in Charleston, S.C. at one of five scheduled town halls. Each event focused on the “Five Rights” of his potential campaign platform, which he called the “social contract for the 21st century.”

While some analysts feared that his wealth and lack of political experience would alienate progressives, Steyer had an extensive array of advisers and strategists at the ready, owing in part to his longstanding involvement in national politics.

In 2013 he founded NextGen America, a political action committee and nonprofit working to combat climate change.

Billionaire investor and Democratic activist Tom Steyer, poised to speak to the Iowa Latino and Asian on Wednesday in Des Moines. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Billionaire investor and Democratic activist Tom Steyer, poised to speak to the Iowa Latino and Asian on Wednesday in Des Moines. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has announced that she has formed an exploratory committee in her bid for the presidency, Steyer has often tangled publicly and personally with Trump.

In October, Trump took a personal shot at Steyer, deriding him as a “wacky” and “crazed & stumbling lunatic” and asserting that “if he is running for President, the Dems will eat him alive!”

The remarks came after Steyer — he was among the prominent liberals to receive a threatening suspicious package earlier in the month — said he “absolutely was blaming” Trump for creating an atmosphere in which “anything can bubble up, and anything is bubbling up.”

Steyer seemed to tie the president’s rhetoric not only to pipe bombs mailed across the country by an outspoken Trump supporter in Florida, but also to a massacre by a lone gunman at a Pittsburgh synagogue in late October.

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Although Steyer seemingly won’t be on the ballot in 2020, his team emphasized that they feel they have the momentum.

“With a new Congress now seated, and a majority of Democrats in the House, the power is in their hands to start the process of removing this corrupt and comprised president,” Need to Impeach Lead Strategist Kevin Mack said in a statement. “We’re not backing down, and we’re not letting up on our work to hold members of Congress accountable until Donald Trump is out of the White House.”

But top Democrats seemed less than enthusiastic about introducing impeachment articles. Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi downplayed freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s profanity-laced vow to impeach Trump, as Republicans strongly condemned the language.

Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he doesn’t think “comments like these particularly help.” And Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., said members were “aghast” at Tlaib, lamenting “a fever” among some colleagues to impeach Trump.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y. — who would oversee any impeachment proceedings — also condemned Tlaib’s comments.

“I don’t like that language,” Nadler told CNN. “More to the point, I disagree with what she said. It is too early to talk about that intelligently. We have to follow the facts and get the facts.”

Fox News’ Pat Ward and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

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