Chris White on January 7, 2018
Billionaire liberal financier Tom Steyer hopes hand-delivering to Congress 535 copies of a recently published book trashing the Trump administration will help bolster a fledgling push to impeach President Donald Trump.
Steyer, a former hedge fund manager and Democratic moneyman, bought hundreds of copies of a book about the Trump presidency called “Fire and Fury,” and plans to give them to members of Congress. The ploy is part of an internet and TV ad campaign the wealthy Californian concocted in October to impeach Trump.
“We believed when we started this impeachment petition on Oct. 20, we felt every subsequent day would bring information that would bolster our argument that this was a dangerous, unfit president who needed to be removed from office,” Steyer told local California station KQED. He believes that the book’s author, Michael Wolff, lays out a compelling case for why Trump must be ousted.
“Fire and Fury” gained attention after excerpts from the book hit the public. One excerpt claims Trump adviser Steve Bannon called the meeting between top Trump campaign members and Russian operatives in June 2016 as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”
Some of Washington, D.C.’s most entrenched reporters, meanwhile, have called into question Wolff’s credibility. New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman, for instance, said Wolff got several critical elements about the administration wrong.
“I believe parts of it and then there are other parts that are factually wrong,” she said Jan. 5 on CNN. “I can see several places in the book that are wrong. So, for instance, he inaccurately describes a report in The New York Times. He inaccurately characterizes a couple of incidents that took place early on in the administration. He gets basic details wrong.”
Steyer remains undaunted. “We’re not convincing anyone to do this,” he said on Saturday. “We’re enabling them to put together a collective national voice to speak up to national officials.”
Many Democrats in Congress are not enamored with his full-throated push to oust Trump. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called an impeachment campaign unpractical last year and suggested it distracts from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and could jeopardize Democratic efforts to take back Congress in 2018.
Steyer supports the Mueller investigation but thinks there is an “open and shut case that [Trump] has met the criteria for impeachment.” He has yet to produce evidence supporting his position.
There is speculation that his $20 million impeachment campaign is part of a larger scheme to run for national office. “I want to be part of the group of people who push America back onto a just and prosperous path,” Steyer said, without responding to questions on his thoughts on the current field of senatorial candidates in California.
California’s Senate President Kevin de Leon is challenging Sen. Dianne Feinstein for the U.S. Senate, while Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa lead the Democratic candidates for governor.
Steyer’s reputation as a king-maker is sketchy. He spent about $86 million in the 2016 election cycle, for instance, in a losing bid to get Democrats elected. Steyer’s political group, NextGen Climate, spent about $56 million in 2016, according to campaign finance data.
NextGen also spent nearly $21 million in the 2014 election cycle but only had a 38 percent rate of supporting winning candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Steyer spent more than $73 million of his personal fortune that election cycle, only to see Republicans take control of the Senate.
Steyer’s overall contributions dwarfed those of fellow billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a conservative who pledged $47 million in donations to Republican candidates in 2016.