People turned out in over 600 communities all over the United States calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. David Siever of MoveOn talks about what this means and what happens next.
SPEAKER: We call for the impeachment and removal of President Donald J. Trump.
DEMONSTRATORS: This is what democracy looks like. Impeach 45, impeach 45.
SPEAKER 2: Impeach.
SPEAKER 2: Impeach.
SPEAKER 3: What’s your beef with the President?
SPEAKER 4: He’s a criminal.
MARC STEINER: Welcome to The Real News. I’m Marc Steiner.
You just saw it; yesterday, thousands of people in over 600 communities across America demonstrating in support of the impeachment of Donald Trump. From Hawaii to Boston, to New York, to New Orleans, Cheyenne, Wyoming, and LA, and San Francisco, they marched. They ranged from a dozen people in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to 125 in the freezing downtown of Detroit, Michigan, to thousands in the center of New York. People chanted everything from “Dump Trump” to “Impeach Putin’s Puppet.” In many places, they were confronted by Trump supporters, showing the depth of the divide in America. What was the purpose of yesterday’s demonstration? Why did they march? What brought the people out to the streets?
Well, we’re going to talk today with one of his organizers, David Sievers, who is Campaign Director for MoveOn.org. And David, welcome. Good to have you with us.
DAVE SIEVERS: Hi, Marc. Nice to be here.
MARC STEINER: When did you begin organizing this, all of you together collectively, and why?
DAVE SIEVERS: Yeah, there’s a coalition of dozens of organizations as of the date of the events yesterday; over a hundred of them who came together shortly after the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, signaled that the House would formally begin its inquiry into impeachment. We decided that the night before the House vote would be the opportunity for closing arguments for the impeachment of Donald Trump. And we wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just seen as something happening in Washington DC, that the fact that the majority of Americans support impeachment and removal is really what’s driven this process and that our voices were heard as one of the last things before members of the House cast their vote to impeach Donald Trump.
MARC STEINER: Let me ask you this. The Washington Post this morning, they had this article. One of the things in the article; they talked about the relatively modest scale of these demonstrations. And they said, “It reflected the difficulty Trump’s opponents face in mobilizing voters to eject the president when their chances of doing that before the 2020 election appear vanishingly small.”
DAVE SIEVERS: Yeah.
MARC STEINER: Clearly, if there’s an impeachment trial in the Senate, most likely he will not be convicted. So that’s what they’re saying as to why the demonstrations were so small. How do you respond to that?
DAVE SIEVERS: I have a few responses. First, we didn’t know the date of these protests until Friday night. And we notified most people who RSVP’d on Saturday. Considering we had three or four days turnaround and hundreds of thousands of people turned out to six hundred events around the country, I think that they were actually a pretty good showing. First, I think that the rapid response nature of when this vote would take place was part of the story here. Second, I want to separate out the question of what the Senate will do from whether or not the House should impeach.
MARC STEINER: Yeah, sure.
DAVE SIEVERS: If the House of Representatives waited for Mitch McConnell to signal that he would play ball and be fair in order to do anything, then nothing would get done. The Constitution doesn’t say “only if the Senate looks like it’s going to have a fair trial should you impeach.” No. It’s the fact that Donald Trump thinks he’s above the law and has broken the law that requires the House to step in and protect us from the next elections being influenced by foreign officials.
MARC STEINER: You see that people are really intensely opposed to this or they’re for it. So the question is: People even on the progressive side of the spectrum and left are divided over the impeachment; so what is your sense of that coming out of these demonstrations, and how is America going to receive all this?
DAVE SIEVERS: Yeah. You raise a really good point that people are divided on what should be done here. But I think the key thing is that people are not divided on the facts. The facts are that Donald Trump extorted or bribed a foreign official to interfere in our election to help him personally. That much is agreed upon. What to do in that case is what’s up for debate. Now, the Constitution clearly lays out that those are impeachable offenses. And so I think what we’re really seeing is Republicans needing to decide whether they’re going to continue to be the party of Trump or whether they’re going to defend the Constitution against this kind of attack.
MARC STEINER: What would be your strategy in all this, and organizations around you, in the coming months? The impeachment vote will be taking place tonight and then the trial probably won’t start until next year. In January in the Senate that’ll be happening. So strategically, you and others who support this impeachment and want to push it hard, what do you plan to do?
DAVE SIEVERS: I think that our work is really simple, which is just to show that what’s at stake here is the country; that we are all Americans and that whatever our political disagreements are, we’re united by the fact that we have one set of rules that governs the country and that we need to play by those rules. Right now, Donald Trump is trying to put himself above the law; saying that those rules, if you’re rich enough and if you’re powerful enough, they don’t apply to you. I think our work is to make sure that at the end of the day, we make it simple rather than complicated to show what’s really at stake here.
MARC STEINER: What do you say to people who say, “Look, I think that Donald Trump and the white nationalists moving around him and the conservative establishment that has come together in some ways and kind of pushed their agendas through Donald Trump, that that’s the danger that we’re facing. But this impeachment is not going to stop him. He’s not going to be convicted in the Senate. The only way we can do this is organize voters and organize communities to push for a different kind of America.” So what about that contradiction if someone throws that out to you?
DAVE SIEVERS: Yeah. There have been a lot of reasons not to impeach Donald Trump that people have proposed. Some have said that he’ll never get convicted in the Senate, but that’s not an excuse for the House not to take action. It seems like if Donald Trump thinks that he’s above the law and acts like he’s above the law, the most dangerous thing that the House can do is say, “You know what? You’re right. You are above the law. We are not brave enough to stand up and the only action and recourse we have left to show that we’re going to hold you accountable.”
Impeachment and elections are two different remedies for two different situations. Elections are an important way to change people if you disagree with them, but right now what’s at stake is the fundamental integrity of our next election. Donald Trump has shown that he’s going to try to cheat in the coming election, and it’s up to the House and the Senate to get in his way by impeaching him and removing him from office so that our next election is fair as well.
MARC STEINER: Yesterday, when you look at the clips of the demonstrations happening around the country… And they were really across America. No state was untouched by these demonstrations yesterday. They were very passionate, they were very clear, and they were out there. A) I’m curious what you think was accomplished by yesterday’s demonstrations. And B) I’m going to go back to what I asked earlier: These demonstrations have happened, so now what? Now what do these organizations do? What’s your strategy between the trial and the election? How do you proceed?
DAVE SIEVERS: Yeah. I think what these events yesterday–the Nobody Is Above the Law events–did was showed that impeachment is a national issue; that regardless of what state, red, blue, purple, what kind of district you’re in, there are people, your neighbors, your family members, who support impeachment. And that they see it not as a partisan issue, but as an issue of about really the core of our democracy. I think that we showed that the vote that’s hopefully happening today to impeach Donald Trump is one that’s fueled by concern for defense of our democracy rather than anything else.
In terms of what happens next, I think we still have to see what the House vote looks like and whether a single Republican is willing to break party ranks and vote to impeach, as all of them should be. Then, also how the trial shapes up in the Senate.
MARC STEINER: One thing I know, Dave Sievers, is we will be calling you a lot the next six months as we see how this rolls out; how the trial rolls out, and how this campaign rolls out for November and more. I appreciate your taking time here at The Real News.
DAVE SIEVERS: Yeah, thank you for the opportunity.
MARC STEINER: We’ve been talking with David Sievers, who is Campaign Director for MoveOn.org. I’m Marc Steiner here for The Real News Network. Let us know what you think about this program, but also about the impeachment and where it’s going and what you think we should be covering. Take care.
Studio: Bababtunde Ogunfolaju, Adam Coley
Production: Genevieve Montinar, Adam Coley, Andrew Corkery