Donald Trump Impeachment Pushback Similar to Civil Rights Movement, Tom Steyer Says

Billionaire Tom Steyer, who has actively promoted an effort to impeach President Donald Trump, said that the pushback he's received from fellow Democrats is reminiscent of resistance to the civil rights movement.

"Impeaching the president of the United States is upsetting the status quo. Anytime in American history that there has been an attempt to upset the status quo, there have been people within the status quo—within the establishment—saying, 'It may be true, it may be something we should deal with, it may be important, but not now,'" said Steyer in an interview with Politico Magazine's podcast Off Message. "If you look at the civil rights movement, the pushback was not, 'You're not telling the truth,' the pushback was, 'We're dealing with it in time. Stand down so we can deal with it in time.'"

Steyer is a longtime Democratic activist and donor who increased his net worth to over $1 billion as a hedge fund manager. He has been an active opponent of Trump and started a television ad campaign calling for his impeachment.

Philanthropist Tom Steyer stands in front of one of the billboards he has funded in Times Square calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump on November 20, 2017, in New York City. Steyer, an American hedge fund manager, environmentalist, progressive activist and fundraiser has pledged $20 million for an ad campaign urging for the impeachment of Trump. The billboards will go up in various locations across the United States. Spencer Platt/GETTY

Steyer also began a Need to Impeach campaign, which as of Tuesday had over 5 million people sign on to the effort. The initiative lays out eight offenses that it thinks Trump has committed and that are impeachable.

In the U.S., an impeachment for a president is similar to an indictment and is brought forward by the House of Representatives. If a majority of the House impeaches a president, the Senate has a trial to determine the president's guilt, presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. If two-thirds of the Senate votes to convict, the president is then removed from office.

Members of the Democratic Party establishment, including House Minority Leader Representative Nancy Pelosi, have pushed back against Steyer's efforts to promote impeachment.

"I don't know that they're talking about impeachment, but whether they have the facts and the law to make a determination of how they go forward—we don't have that information," said Pelosi in a press briefing last month addressing Steyer's efforts.

Steyer said in the interview that by not pushing to impeach, Pelosi is normalizing Trump's behavior.

"The founders gave us impeachment to answer a reckless, lawless and dangerous president and every day that his behavior is accepted, every day that you don't oppose it, it becomes enshrined as the way things are done. You have normalized this presidency, you have normalized his behavior," said Steyer.