Democratic White House hopefuls united in searing condemnation of Donald Trump during their fourth debate Tuesday, saying the president has broken the law, abused his power, and deserves to be impeached.
From the opening moments, most of the dozen candidates on stage launched fierce broadsides against Trump over the Ukrainian scandal at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.
“The impeachment must go forward,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is neck and neck with former vice president Joe Biden at the head of the 2020 nominations race.
“Impeachment is the way that we establish that this man will not be permitted to break the law over and over without consequences,” she thundered.
But Warren, and others, warned the goal was not just to sanction Trump, but to restore the dignity of the office.
“Understand,” she went on, “it’s about the next president, and the next president, and the next president, and the future of this country.”
Washington’s impeachment brawl has dominated US politics for weeks, centered on Trump’s effort to press Ukraine to dig up dirt on his 2020 rival Biden — and for a 10 solid minutes Trump was the focus of attacks.
Biden made clear he believes Trump should be impeached — saying lawmakers “have no choice but to move” — but he also pushed back hard on Trump’s charge that he had intervened in Ukraine to protect his son Hunter.
“My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong,” Biden said, when asked about his son’s employment with a Ukrainian company, which even some Democrats say held the appearance of a conflict of interest.
“I carried out the policy of the United States in rooting out corruption in Ukraine. That’s what we should be focusing on,” Biden said.
The Democrats were facing off in an extraordinary moment.
The progressive Warren is on the rise and challenging Biden for frontrunner status, while liberal Sanders is under pressure to project fortitude two weeks after he was sidelined by a mild heart attack.
Beyond impeachment, candidates clashed robustly on kitchen table issues like health care.
Warren faced stiff blowback from moderates Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg who criticized her for declining to come clean on how much her “Medicare for All” health plan would cost.
“The difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something that you can actually get done,” said Klobuchar, a senator from Minnesota.
Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana and the first major openly gay presidential hopeful, said Warren has been too evasive on the issue.
“Your signature is to have a plan for everything, except this,” he zinged.
“No plan has been laid out to explain how a multi-trillion dollar hole in this plan that Senator Warren is putting forward is supposed to get filled in.”
Also on stage Tuesday were Senator Kamala Harris — her campaign floundering following a well-received rollout — Senator Cory Booker, ex-congressman Beto O’Rourke; entrepreneur Andrew Yang, Obama-era cabinet member Julian Castro, congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and billionaire activist Tom Steyer.
Each struggled to get heard in the crowded showdown, although Yang got substantial time discussing his concerns about how automation has begun replacing millions of American workers.
An embattled Trump has come out with guns blazing against Biden and his son Hunter, repeatedly claiming without evidence that they are corrupt.
Biden has begun criticizing the president more forcefully, perhaps because he stands to lose the most in the clash.
Sanders, 78, is grappling with his own setback following a heart attack that put his health and age into question.
It tangentially raises concerns about Biden, who turns 77 next month and has been criticized for lacking vitality in debates.
Ohio voted twice for Barack Obama and then flipped to Trump in 2016. Democrats are aiming to take it back next year.
Trump advisors futilely trying to get him to stop ranting about statues as his re-election prospects collapse: report
According to a report focusing on Donald Trump's rally at Mt. Rushmore on the evening before the 4th of July, advisors to the president ate attempting to get him to start focusing on bread and butter issues that will get him re-elected instead of harping on statues being pulled down by protesters across the country.
As the Daily Beast report illustrates, their efforts appear to be futile based upon his Friday night speech.
With the president trying to fire up the crowd by insisting, “Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders. They think the American people are weak, and soft, and submissive,” the Beast reported that Trump, "decided to focus heavily Friday evening on protesters and Black Lives Matter activists who want various American monuments, including those honoring Confederate, white-supremacist, and slave-owning figures of history, torn down and destroyed for good. "
GOP scrambling to pay for Jacksonville convention after Trump yanked it from North Carolina: report
According to a report from the New York Times, Republican officials are having difficulties getting donors to pay for the Republican National Convention to be held in Jacksonville, Florida after Donald Trump yanked the gathering out of Charlotte, North Carolina in a fit of pique over COVID-19 health restrictions.
At issue, the report notes, is that millions of dollars were spent in North Carolina where a smaller event will now be held, and now the party is, in essence, forced to pay for a second convention.
Ivanka Trump buried for her COVID-19 advice during the packed Mt Rushmore rally: ‘What a clown’
First daughter Ivanka Trump was thoroughly raked over the coals late Friday night after she posted advice on Twitter about wearing masks at the same time that her father, Donald Trump, was holding a rally at Mt. Rushmore before a crowd of shoulder-to-shoulder fans, few of whom were wearing masks.
Making things worse, within minutes of Ivanka's tweet it was announced that Kimberly Guilfoyle, a Trump campaign official and girlfriend of Don Trump Jr., tested positive for the coronavirus.