During a CNN town hall, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke says impeachment proceedings should begin against President Donald Trump, citing the White House's refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas.
QUESTION: Two arguments for starting impeachment proceedings against President Trump are, first, that impeachment would bring into the open information withheld by the administration and, second, that it is the duty of Congress to protect the Constitution. There seems to be a concern, however, that the move could backfire politically. What is your stance on starting impeachment proceedings against President Trump and why?
O'ROURKE: Chris, thank you for the question. We should begin impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. Not something...
Not something that I take lightly. It's an incredibly serious, sober decision that we should make as a country, really the last resort when every other option has failed us.
And at this point, where the president has refused to respond to any subpoena, where his attorney general will not testify, where he will not furnish other witnesses so that we can find out what happened to this great democracy in 2016, and how we prevent future attacks in 2020 and beyond, a president who invited the involvement of a foreign power in this democracy in 2016 and then did everything in his power to obstruct the investigation into what has happened, if we do nothing because we are afraid of the polls or the politics or the repercussions in the next election, then we will have set a precedent for this country that, in fact, some people because of the position of power and public trust that they hold are above the law.
And if this great democracy, 243 years into this idea and this experiment, is to survive for another 243 or even another year or two, we cannot allow that precedent to stand. There must be consequences, accountability, and justice. The only way to ensure that is to begin impeachment proceedings.
Cris, thank you for asking the question.
BASH: So just to follow up on that, you said that impeachment proceedings should start now. Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, says that the president -- impeaching the president would be very divisive in the country and would only help the president solidify his base. Do you think there's something to that?
O'ROURKE: I do. You know, I understand the political implications of this. But I think this moment calls for us to look beyond the politics and the polling, and even the next election.
It's the very sanctity of the ballot box and the very future of the world's greatest democracy. And if this is important to us -- and I think it is -- then we need to look past those short-term consequences to the consequences to the future of this country.
And the only way that we're going to get the documents and the facts and the truth to be able to pursue them as far as they go, as high up as they reach, is to compel the testimony, the furnishing of those documents through impeachment proceedings. It's the only way that we're going to get to the facts necessary to have that accountability and justice.
BASH: Because short-term pain could be for you, if you were the Democratic nominee. That's OK?
O'ROURKE: That's possible. But, listen, the consequence of the alternative is to turn a blind eye to this and, in doing so, turn our back on the future of this country. And I cannot be part of that. We're going to have to make the tough decisions now.