Opinion: 20 Out of 20: Where the Democratic primary stands on impeachment

How has the House’s announcement of an impeachment inquiry of Trump shaken up the race to be the president’s challenger?


Jenna Galligan

Former Vice President and 2020 democratic candidate Joe Biden greets attendees following his speech at the opening of his campaign office on S. Gilbert St. on Wednesday, August 7, 2019.

Elijah Helton, Opinions Editor

It looks like we might actually have an impeachment on our hands. On Tuesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an inquiry against President Trump, citing national-security concerns.

This comes after reports that Trump withheld aid from the Ukrainian government in order to get them to investigate unfounded claims that former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden were somehow engaged in corruption in the Eastern European country.

To be clear, neither Trump nor his team have offered any evidence of this claim, and the specifics of this latest presidential scandal are still coming out. However, the ordeal and the resulting investigation is immediately affecting the Democratic presidential-nomination race.

Joe Biden

It makes sense that Biden would come out forcefully against Trump’s supported claims, given that the former vice president is the main target of the accusations. However, Biden has framed his position on impeachment a little more cautiously than perhaps expected. Biden said Congress would have “no choice but to initiate impeachment” if Trump did not comply with the investigators.

Biden, who often approaches politics in a lowercase-c conservative manner, has yet to fully support impeachment, reflecting his moderate supporters. That could change soon as more moderate House Democrats come out in support of the impeachment inquiry.

The larger upshot of all of this looks to potentially benefit Biden, as his Democratic rivals feel pressure to defend him against the president’s baseless claims. Alternatively, it could hurt Biden as Democrats try to avoid another presidential nominee plagued by scandal. But momentum in the party is on the side as of now, and Biden stands to benefit in the primary.

Elizabeth Warren

The senator from Massachusetts has been calling for Trump’s impeachment longer than anyone else in the Democratic field, vocally supporting the commencement of impeachment proceedings since April.

Warren originally supported impeaching the president during the Russia investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Trump’s out-of-line behavior fits in neatly with her overall campaign message of fighting corruption. Whether it’s election interference before the Trump administration or dodgy foreign policy during it, Warren has held the president up as a prime example of what she views as the root problem in Washington.

Like Biden, she seems likely to spin current developments in the House to her advantage. Being the first and loudest supporter of impeachment looks even better as the party views it more favorably. It’s possible that it won’t change her standing in the primary all that much, but if Democrats are looking for the most pro-impeachment candidate, they can find it in Warren.

Everyone else

If Biden and Warren are taking the lead at the moment, there isn’t a lot of spotlight left for other presidential hopefuls to shine. Most Democrats seeking the nomination have come out in full support of impeaching the president and, as of now, don’t stand out from each other in doing so.

Perhaps the most surprising statement came from Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, one of the two candidates who will have a vote if impeachment reaches the House floor. She does not currently support it, saying impeachment would be “terribly divisive” for the country.

Regardless of what the next days will bring in relation to Trump’s misconduct, the Democrats largely seem to be moving in the same direction as the field of presidential candidates begins to narrow.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.