The 2020 hopeful is making the case for booting the president more forcefully than any of her Democratic rivals.
When Elizabeth Warren arrived at work Tuesday, she had no intention of reading damning excerpts of the Mueller report from the Senate floor while demanding President Donald Trump’s impeachment.
The Senate majority leader made her do it, she said.
“I felt a responsibility to go to the floor to say: ‘Case not closed, buddy,’” Warren said in an interview, referring to Mitch McConnell’s “case closed” declaration that it was time for Congress to move on from the Russia investigation.
Warren has been making the case for impeachment more forcefully in the past few weeks than any of her 2020 Democratic rivals the past few weeks — a move that could help the Massachusetts senator rally party activists itching to take on Trump. The push, along with Warren’s rollout of a menu of policy proposals, has coincided with an uptick in her poll figures and a spate of positive news coverage.
Yet most Democrats in Congress — and even some of her primary opponents — think Warren’s play is polarizing and risky. They’re wary of undercutting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who opposes a rush to impeach, or allowing their campaigns to be defined by a potential spectacle that a relatively small slice of the electorate is demanding.
And most of her competitors are reluctant to join her.
“Impeachment should be left on the table. But I do believe what Speaker Pelosi is doing is smart,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who also is competing for the Democratic nomination. Voters aren’t tuned in to all “the facts and the details,” she added, “so I think if you want to bring the American people along with you, you really need to have these hearings” before initiating impeachment proceedings.
Warren said she doesn’t intend to press Pelosi privately on the matter. But she shot back at Democrats who argue it’s better to take things slow, pursue contempt charges against administration officials or possibly file a lawsuit for documents.
“I have tried to let the House make its own determination and I’ve made clear how I see this,” she said. “Every single person in the House and the Senate should take a vote on whether what Donald Trump did to obstruct justice was an impeachable offense. And then they ought to have to live with that vote for the rest of their lives.”
Warren’s extensive list of policy proposals — on everything from free college to opioids to military housing — leaves little room for criticism that she’s focused on impeachment to the neglect of kitchen table issues. She doesn’t shy away from impeachment when asked by voters, but she also has not made it part of her regular stump speech.