CONCORD — Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren and Republican hopeful Bill Weld both said Wednesday President Trump should have been impeached based on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
That probe didn’t proceed, and now both Warren and Weld — in Concord Wednesday to file their candidacy papers for the New Hampshire primary — support the House inquiry into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.
Warren said she became convinced after the House Democratic leaders balked at pushing impeachment based on Mueller’s findings that Trump would continue to abuse his executive power.
“I knew at that time that if we did not go forward with an impeachment inquiry, this is a man who would break the law repeatedly and now it appears that is exactly what he has done,” Warren told reporters after she formally signed up to appear on the 2020 primary ballot.
In April, Warren was one of the first major Democratic candidates to support impeachment.
“I think it should have happened earlier but we’re here now, let’s do it,” Warren said.
She said her presidential campaign would be put on hold if there is a Senate trial on whether to remove Trump from office.
“I’ve got a constitutional duty; if there’s a trial, I will be there,” Warren said.
Hours earlier, Weld, the 74-year-old former Massachusetts governor, signed up to challenge Trump on the Republican side of the primary. He said he believed the Democratically-controlled House would conduct the impeachment probe in a fair manner.
In 1974, Weld started his legal career as a lawyer on the staff of the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment inquiry against then-President Richard Nixon.
Weld said he would advise those working on the Trump proceedings to make sure the process can be easily understood.
“It is better if you simplify the articles rather than loading up,” Weld said.
Weld said he was given the task of crafting a complex article of impeachment about the “impoundment of funds” by Nixon.
The House rejected that charge in favor three more easily understood charges: obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress.
After the House Judiciary Committee approved those three charges, Nixon resigned from office.
On Tuesday, former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford ended his own GOP presidential bid, concluding the furor over the President’s possible impeachment was stifling all other meaningful debate.
Weld said the outcome of impeachment could boost his own long-shot run.
“I think that it is possible that the impact of cold, inconvertible facts coming out could bring more oxygen into the room,” Weld said.
“It could fuel the candidacy of certainly people like myself as someone who from early on has been saying this president deserves to face impeachment by the U.S. House and removal from office in the U.S. Senate.”
In other remarks, Warren pushed back against wealthy critics of her plan to raise their income taxes and billionaires like Michael Bloomberg, who is seriously considering a 2020 primary candidacy of his own.
Warren, the 70-year-old Massachusetts senator, refused to directly criticize either Bloomberg or former Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick.
According to several media outlets, Patrick is said to be on the verge of entering the crowded Democratic primary field.
But Warren noted the criticism of her has ramped up since she unveiled her way to pay for her Medicare-for-all health insurance plan — a tax on billionaires and a new tax on capital gains by individuals.
“When I am talking about how we can make this country work better not just for people at the top, I have noticed that billionaires go on TV and cry, and other billionaires encourage their billionaire buddies to jump into the race,” Warren said.
Aides to Bloomberg have already said the ex-New York mayor has no intention of running in New Hampshire and other early-voting states and instead won’t be on the ballot until Super Tuesday primaries take place next March.
Meanwhile, Patrick called key supporters to say he would enter the race with a video on Thursday and tentative plans to come to New Hampshire to file on Friday.
Warren’s campaign has been on a slow-but-steady climb in New Hampshire since she began running last January. The latest polls here have her running neck-and-neck or slightly ahead of 2016 primary winner Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Vice President Joe Biden of Delaware.
Asked if she anticipates winning the primary, expected to be held Feb. 11, Warren simply answered, “Yes.”
Democratic rival Julian Castro said Iowa and New Hampshire aren’t ethnically diverse enough to warrant having the top spot at the head of the primary calendar every four years.
In response, Warren said the two states, along with South Carolina and Nevada, which follow New Hampshire, provide a good cross-section of the country.
“Those four states represent a lot of different parts of the country and a lot of different people; it’s urban, it’s rural, different issues, it is about the opportunity to talk about issues to all sorts of voters,” Warren said.