DNC Chair Struggles to Distance Himself from Trump Impeachment Talk

Tom Perez insisted to Martha Raddatz of ABC News that the Democrats have real issues beyond attacks on the president

by Kathryn Blackhurst | Updated 12 Nov 2017 at 6:38 PM

Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair Tom Perez struggled to distance himself from Democratic megadonor Tom Steyer’s call for President Donald Trump’s impeachment during an interview Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week.”

Co-host Martha Raddatz cornered Perez by pointing to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll indicating that 61 percent of Americans believe the Democratic Party’s leaders are primarily criticizing Trump and his policies instead of taking their own positive, alternative message to the voters.

"Is the Democratic message too much about Trump and not enough about your vision?" Raddatz asked the DNC chair.

In response, Perez pointed to the Democratic Party's victories Tuesday in that Virginia's gubernatorial race and statewide elections, saying, "We were leading with our values there." But Raddatz pushed further, pointing to the rhetoric that democratic voters, politicians and donors have been using calling for Trump's impeachment.

"Let's go back to President Trump again — and again, 61 percent of Americans say Democratic leaders are mainly criticizing Trump. You say that's not true," Raddatz said. "Billionaire Tom Steyer, he's the single biggest donor to the Democratic Party in the last two election cycles [and] put millions of dollars behind an ad calling for President Trump's impeachment."

Raddatz then played one of Steyer's most recent ads targeting the president.

"[Trump] has brought us to the brink of nuclear war, obstructed justice in the FBI, and in direct violation of the Constitution, taken money from foreign governments, threatened to shut down news organizations that report the truth," the ad said. "It's why I'm funding this effort to raise our voices together and demanded elected officials take a stand on impeachment."

When Raddatz asked Perez if he supports the ads, the DNC chair initially skirted the issue.

"You know, I have been fighting for organizing. We've been fighting for making sure that people have access to good jobs. We've been fighting for health care," Perez said. "The culture of corruption around Washington, D.C., is very real."

Undeterred, Raddatz pressed Perez again, asking, "Do you support what [Steyer] is saying in that ad? Would you like him to stop doing that, Mr. Steyer?"

"No," Perez answered. "Tom Steyer has a right to do whatever he feels he needs to do. And Tom Steyer invested a lot of money in Virginia and elsewhere. And I applaud his efforts in investing in organizing and in helping elect Democrats. And there are a number of people who are very — myself included — very, very concerned about the culture of corruption that has engulfed Washington, D.C., and places like Alabama."

Related: Democrats, Media Setting up Impeachment, Removal Narrative

Although Perez refused to call upon Steyer to stop producing ads pushing for Trump's impeachment, the DNC chair attempted to distance himself from that kind of political talk as the party gears up for the 2018 midterm elections.

"Well, again, I am not talking about impeachment, because I'm talking about good jobs for folks," Perez said. "I'm talking about health care for all. I'm talking about making sure that we're fighting for the issues that matter most."

Perez didn't take as strong of a stance on the issue as other prominent Democrats have done.

"Steyer impeachment ads seem to me more of a vanity project than a call to action," David Axelrod, former President Barack Obama's former top adviser, tweeted Saturday. "It is — at least this point — an unhelpful message. If impeachment becomes a political tool, it will be as damaging to our democracy as the degradations @realDonaldTrump has inflicted on it."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reportedly was peeved with Steyer for funding the impeachment ads, telling Democratic Party leaders behind closed doors that those ads distract voters from the Democratic Party's policies and agenda, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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