O'Rourke: 'Begin impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump'

Democratic candidate holds Town Hall Tuesday night

By Eric Bradner, CNN
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Beto O'Rourke

(CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke repeated his call for Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump in a CNN town hall Tuesday night in Iowa.

The former congressman from Texas said impeachment is "not something that I take lightly."

"It is an incredibly serious, sober decision to make as a country," he said.

O'Rourke has previously called for Trump's impeachment. He said Tuesday that Democrats should not worry -- as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said -- that doing so could energize Trump's base ahead of the 2020 election.

He cited Attorney General William Barr's decision to skip a House hearing and the White House's refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas.

He said Democrats should "look past those short-term consequences" and focus on obtaining documents and evidence. The only way to do so, he said is to "compel the testimony, the furnishing of those documents, through impeachment proceedings."

At stake, O'Rourke said, are the "very sanctity of the ballot box and the very future of the world's greatest democracy."

"If we do nothing because we are afraid of the polls or the politics, or the repercussions in the next election, we will set a precedent that, in fact, some people, because of the position of power and public trust that they hold, are above the law," he said.

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