Obama Administration Officials Join Top Democrats Balking at a Frustrated Steyer’s Impeachment Efforts

(Updated)

Tom Steyer / Getty Images

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Former Obama administration officials David Axelrod and Eric Holder voiced criticism of calls to impeach Donald Trump Sunday, as a frustrated Tom Steyer continues to lobby Democrats to remove the president from office.

Steyer, a left-wing billionaire, has poured tens of millions of dollars into a national ad campaign calling Trump a danger to the United States who must be impeached. However, the best he's been able to do in the form of legislation was articles of impeachment introduced by Rep. Al Green (D., Texas), which were easily tabled.

Linking to a New York Times article about Republican efforts to use the threat of impeachment to rally voters in the 2018 midterms, Axelrod, an Obama White House adviser, tweeted Sunday, "Dems should NOT commit to impeachment unless & until there's a demonstrable case for one. It is not just a matter of politics. It's a matter of principle. If we ‘normalize' impeachment as a political tool, it will be another hammer blow to our democracy."

Holder, who served as Obama's first Attorney General, tweeted his agreement with Axelrod, writing, "Ax is exactly right. Midterms can be, among other things, a referendum on this Administration, its policies and its supporters – at federal and state levels. Midterms should not be centered around questions of impeachment."

Steyer responded to Axelrod by saying Trump had already committed eight impeachable offenses and linked to his petition.

"If impeachment becomes a political tool instead of the end result of a credible investigation, then you are as guilty as Trump, in some ways, of taking a hammer blow to institutions," Axelrod told the New York Times. "To say I’m for impeachment come hell or high water is to promise chaos."

They're not alone in their antagonism toward Steyer's efforts. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) reportedly told the California-based Steyer last year that his efforts were a distraction. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) also opposes premature attempts to impeach.

Ranking House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif. ) said the campaign to impeach Trump before the conclusion of the Russia investigation wasn't "helpful."

"I don’t think it’s helpful for anyone to be pushing impeachment before the investigation is finished," Schiff told The San Francisco Chronicle‘s "It’s All Political" podcast earlier this year.

"That case will be more difficult to make if it looks like this is where we wanted to go all along," he added.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.)—like Schiff, an ubiquitous cable news presence who often discusses allegations of Russian collusion by Trump—said the midterms shouldn't be a referendum on impeachment.

Steyer is infuriated that so many top Democrats in California—the nation's largest state which Hillary Clinton carried overwhelmingly in the 2016 election—don't support impeachment, the Chronicle reports.

He is bringing his nationwide town hall tour to the Bay Area, represented by liberal stalwarts like Pelosi, Swalwell and Democratic Reps. Jackie Speier, Ro Khanna and Anna Eshoo, all of whom didn't back Green's impeachment articles.

"Those who condemn Trump but do nothing to back their words with action are enabling the damage he is inflicting," Steyer said. "Local Bay Area Congress members have repeatedly chosen to ignore their constituents’ voices by voting no on impeachment. The people deserve elected leaders who refuse to back down on our shared principles, and we will ensure their voices are heard."

Steyer certainly has prominent Democrats among his allies, however. Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) has become a progressive darling since Trump took office for her invectives against the president and has frequently said she will work as hard as she can to see Trump impeached.

Trump has taken notice, calling her a "low IQ" person.

UPDATE: 12:31 P.M.: This article was updated with Steyer's tweet responding to Axelrod.

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