Newsom mocks Republican effort to impeach Pres. Biden as 'student government'

ByEric Bradner, CNN
Tuesday, September 19, 2023
Newsom mocks Republican impeachment effort as 'student government'
California Gov. Gavin Newsom mocked House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's decision to launch an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom mocked House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's decision to launch an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, describing the Republican majority's actions as "student government" in an interview with CNN.

Still, Newsom told CNN's Dana Bash on Monday that he doesn't "love" the use of family connections for money. Biden's son Hunter Biden earned of millions of dollars in places like Ukraine and China while his father had a large role in the Obama administration's foreign policy efforts.

"If that's the new criteria, there are a lot of folks in a lot of industries, not just in politics, where people have family members and relationships that they're trying to parlay and get a little influence and benefit in that respect. That's hardly unique," Newsom said.

"I don't love that any more than you love it or other people, I imagine, love it. We want to see a lot less of that," he said. "But an impeachment inquiry? Give me a break."

He also said President Biden is "taking the right approach" by not meddling in a federal probe into his son, who was indicted by special counsel David Weiss in connection with a gun he purchased in 2018, the first time in US history the Justice Department has charged the child of a sitting president.

Republicans, Newsom derisively said, are "worried about gun crimes, which is remarkable."

McCarthy's move to open an impeachment inquiry, which he said would allow further investigation into "allegations of abuse of power, obstruction and corruption," came even though House GOP-led investigations have yet to provide any direct evidence that the president financially benefited from Hunter Biden's career overseas.

"This is a joke. Ready, fire, aim," Newsom said. "I mean, this is a perversity with what the founding fathers ever conceived of and imagined. So, if that's the best they could do, give me a break."

Newsom says Harris belongs on 2024 ticket

The California governor, who has been the subject of 2024 speculation as he has traveled to Republican-led states in recent months and agreed to a Fox News debate with Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, insisted he will not run for the White House himself.

"The answer is no," Newsom said. "No ambiguity."

He also said he has not thought about whether he would make a good president. "I'm not that guy. I'm just not," he said.

His comments come at a fraught moment for Biden, who faces concerns from some Democrats over his age and Harris' performance as vice president. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently did not directly answer a question about whether Harris should remain on the Democratic ticket in 2024.

MORE: Newsom says he doesn't want to appoint replacement for Feinstein

Newsom said "of course" Harris, a fellow California Democrat, should be the Democratic 2024 vice presidential nominee.

"Biden-Harris administration - a masterclass in terms of performance, bipartisan deals on infrastructure, bipartisan deals on guns and debt ceiling, on the CHIPS and Science Act," he said. "I mean, by definition, if I think this administration last two, two and a half years, has been one of the most outstanding administrations the last few decades, and she's a member of that administration, she gets to lay and claim credit to a lot of that success. The answer is absolutely," he said.

Newsom said Democrats need to get "out of this sort of navel-gazing about Joe Biden, and let's get going."

"Let's get on the train. This train has left the proverbial station," he said.

GOP abortion claims 'total BS'

Newsom criticized former President Donald Trump's comments that aired Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" in which the former president claimed some Democrats support abortion rights up to and after birth.

"It's a canard. It's a political thing. It's total BS," he said. "This is a false flag. This is where they need to go in order to get out of the mess they've created, because they don't believe in fundamental choice and freedom for women."

Newsom said he and many other Democrats support abortion rights until viability, at about 24 weeks.

MORE: Abortion pill ruling: What is the impact on mifepristone access in California?

However, he said, government should not be involved, and examples of exceptions to that cut-off are "so extreme, so rare, when you have literally viability issues that are deeply personal and painful."

"In those extremely rare and personal circumstances, one thing I absolutely believe, Donald Trump should not be making that decision. I shouldn't be making that decision," he said.

Newsom backs UAW workers

Newsom said he supports members of the United Auto Workers union who are striking, saying that the United States has to address its "fundamental gap" in wealth.

"I absolutely support the workers in the strike," he said, while declining to weigh in on the specifics of the negotiations.

He was less willing to discuss the Hollywood writers' strike, saying he is in a "different position" because of the formal authority and convening capacity he has as governor of California.

"I'm encouraged by the conversations over this last weekend. I'm not gonna overstate that. And I'm encouraged that they're meeting again later this week," he said.

He said the post-coronavirus pandemic economic environment, marked by income disparities, questions about the future role of artificial intelligence and changing business models, has created the "perfect stew of stress" for workers.

It's led to "populist movements rising left and right. People are frustrated and angry. They think things are rigged," Newsom said.

"You're seeing it more broadly as labor's exercising more muscle out of more fear and stress about the world we're living in," he said. "And I don't think that's a bad thing. I think fundamentally that's a good thing. I believe in collective bargaining. I believe working families, working poor, do better when they organize together."

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