Amid claps and chants of “lock him up,” billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer laid out his case for removing President Donald Trump from office and mobilizing voters to head to the polls in November during a special town hall Monday night.

The key is ensuring the electorate knows the importance of speaking out at the ballot, the environmental activist told more than 300 people at The Eastern Detroit.

“Every single election is a choice,” he said. “We know that if we show up, we can make a dramatic difference as a community.”

The gathering was among dozens nationwide led by Steyer’s Need to Impeach campaign, which launched in October and has drawn an estimated 5.5 million supporters in an effort political strategists call one of the most powerful political tools in the Democratic Party, coordinators said.

Earlier Monday, Steyer announced via an online video conference from Lansing a $10 million “Need to Vote” initiative aimed at mobilizing his campaign's members to vote in November and help Democrats win back the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Steyer, a former hedge fund manager who has invested some of his wealth into political causes, said a power shift could guarantee more checks and balances on the Trump administration. It also could challenge policies on  immigration reform, workers’ rights, environmental protections as well as other hot-button issues, he said.

“If we don’t win a whole bunch of elections on Nov. 6, 2018, we are going to continue to be in a very dangerous situation,” he told the crowd.

Standing against a red, white and blue sign flanked by American and Michigan flags, the California resident drew cheers while describing why he believes Trump should be impeached.

Among his alleged offenses, citing constitutional scholars: obstructing justice; possible violation of a clause prohibiting the president from accepting personal benefits from any foreign government or official; and enacting policies that separate immigrant families at the border.

“We are talking about a president who actually is acting contrary to the Constitution on a daily basis, who is actually attacking our democracy,” Steyer said. “That is the basis for removing him from office.”

Reached for a response Monday, Vanessa Morrone, a White House director of regional communications, said in an email: "We are not able to comment on campaign events."

Michael Joyce, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said: “Tom Steyer is nothing more than an out-of-touch California liberal who’s more concerned about looking out for his own special interests than fighting for the values of Michiganders and Americans alike.

"Impeachment is not a platform to win on because Michiganders want results, not resistance, which is why our nominees such as John James, Bill Schuette and our congressional candidates are well positioned to win in November." 

But many in the diverse audience that packed the town hall Monday were adamant Steyer is pushing a popular cause.

"We have to start looking for people who care more about people’s interests than the money," said Robert Bruce, a Detroit retiree who attended the forum while wearing a T-shirt with the message "Anybody But a Republican."

Rachele Downs, a community and economic development professional from Ferndale, agreed.

"We are in a defining moment in our country's history," she said. "Our democracy is in grave jeopardy."

Read or Share this story: