ROCHESTER, NH (CBS) – For the first time, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden called for President Donald Trump to be impeached. He had shied away from the issue in the past, but said the president’s controversial contacts with Ukraine and his refusal to cooperate with the House investigation made the choice clear.
WBZ-TV’s Liam Martin spoke exclusively with the former vice president in Rochester, New Hampshire shortly after he made the announcement.
Liam Martin: “President Trump has asked Ukraine and now China to investigate you and your son. House Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry based on that and you announced for the first time today the president should be impeached. Why?”
Joe Biden: “Because he has acknowledged what you’re not allowed to do in the Constitution as the President of the United States of America. You cannot ask a foreign power to get involved in a domestic election. So he’s basically, he’s indicted himself. And it’s the object of the House and I think the duty of the House to determine whether or not articles of impeachment should be put forward and for the Senate to decide. In the meantime, I should be out there making sure I make a case why he’s incompetent to remain as president based on his policies.”
Martin: “You have been reluctant to weigh in on impeachment. I think you said you did not want to speculate because you’re not a senator. What changed? Why have you today announced now I do support this?”
Biden: “What’s changed is his conduct, it’s just over the top. I mean there is no way to deny when the guy says ‘I’ve asked China, I’ve asked Russia, I’ve asked you know, to get engaged.’ You’re not allowed to do that. Presidents don’t do that.”
Martin: “The president’s accusation against you stems from your son, Hunter Biden working on the board of an energy company in Ukraine while you were vice president. Do you agree that could at least create the appearance of a conflict?”
Biden: “Look, what I agree with is there is not a single solitary thing anyone said that was done wrong. I don’t discuss business with my son. I didn’t know that was the case when in fact I found out after the fact. And because I don’t discuss things with my son or my family because I don’t want to have any knowledge of any, I don’t want to be accused of well you talked with your son or you talked with your whomever. And the fact is everybody has looked at that. He did nothing wrong. Zero. Period. So the fact is what did Trump do? Trump went out unlike any other president I’m aware of and said, ‘By the way we are going to hold up maybe your aid to fight the Russians which are killing Ukrainians in the east unless you do the following.’ Apparently. That should be investigated, that is an impeachable offense if it’s true.”
Martin: “Let’s talk about some of the issues that really matter to people at home, their daily lives. Specifically health care many of the other candidates on the Democratic side of this race support Medicare-for-All, why don’t you?”
Biden: “Let’s see who’s supporting it still. A lot of them said they still support it, I’m with Bernie, but they’re all moving away from that. I don’t support it for three reasons. One, we have to act quickly and immediately. We can do that by building on Obamacare, providing a public option if people want that option and we’ll cover everybody. In the meantime, we can’t wait two, five, 10 years. If you notice every time there is a debate there’s a reiteration, well I’m not quite for that plan or it’s going to take 10 years to do this. Look it costs trillions of dollars. $3.4 trillion per year. I’m not prepared to tax the Middle Class, that’s bigger than the entire federal budget in a year, per year.”
Martin: “What about the people who say the costs are so high we can’t do incremental change at this point, it has to be structural?”
Biden: “Well by the way what I’m proposing is significant change. What I’m supporting is taking Obamacare which put a lot of people back in the game, number one. Eliminating all the cuts that the president made in it, adding a public option, a Medicare-like public option, so if you don’t like your private health insurance you can get in that option. And reducing the total cost of being able to get your insurance, reducing the cost of your premiums, reducing the cost of your co-pays.”
Martin: “If you are nominated and eventually elected president, first day in office, what’s your number one goal?”
Biden: “Well there is a number of them. Number one what I would do is immediately rejoin the Paris climate accord which we helped negotiate. Number two I would call a meeting of the first 100 days with all the members of the Paris climate accord over 180 countries and I would invite them to come to America to sit in the White House with me like we did with other issues and I say ‘what are you going to do to up the ante to make sure we don’t get overtaken by what’s happening.’ We make up 15 percent of the problem, the rest of the world makes up 85 percent.
“The second thing I would do I will send within the first 100 days a bill to the United States Senate calling for immigration reform. Legitimizing Dreamers, making sure we’re in a position that we have a path, an earned way to citizenship for over 11 million undocumented people and get rid of these cages. Stop this idea. The president was talking, we learned this week, he was talking months ago ‘can’t you build me a moat to put alligators and snakes in it. Am I allowed to shoot people coming across.’ That was the assertion that was made by some of his people. Or ‘Can I shoot people in the legs as they’re coming across, I know I can’t shoot them to kill them.’ I mean this is not who we are.”
Martin: “In recent polling, Senator Elizabeth Warren and I’m sure you have had this question, has crept up on you in the polls and in some polls she is ahead of you. Why is that do you think?”
Biden: “Well I think she’s a quality candidate and I think it’s a very competitive race. And I’ve never thought it’d be anything on average the polls we’re still ahead but that’s not relevant, I don’t look at the polls. I didn’t get involved or run for this office because of what the polls said or didn’t say. To change things I got engaged in. So I’m going to continue to talk about what in fact has gotten me where I am today. What we are most concerned about, about the health and well-being of American citizens. I plan on winning New Hampshire. That’s my goal.”