Biden calls for Trump’s impeachment for first time

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday said he supports the impeachment of President Trump.

“With his words and his actions, President Trump has indicted himself by obstructing justice, refusing to comply with the congressional inquiry,” Biden said during a campaign event in Rochester, N.H. “He’s already convicted himself.

“In full view of the world and the American people, Donald Trump has violated his oath of office, betrayed this nation and committed impeachable acts,” Biden continued, drawing applause. “To preserve our Constitution, our democracy, our basic integrity, he should be impeached.”

More from Biden’s speech (as delivered):

But we have to remember that impeachment isn't only about what the president has done. It's about the threat the president poses to the nation if allowed to remain in office. One thing about this president is absolutely clear. He has seen no limits to his power regardless of what the Constitution says. He believes the entire United States government can be corrupted into furthering his personal political needs. He's even willing to hold Congress and congressionally appropriated aid to a foreign nation hostage to his personal political demands. He believes if he does something, it's legal. Period. And perhaps, most importantly, he believes there is nothing we can do about it. He believes he can and will get away with anything he does. We all laughed when he said he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and get away with it. It's no joke. He's shooting holes in the Constitution and we cannot let him get away with it.

Biden had previously signaled his support for the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, but refrained from taking a position on how it should conclude.

The investigation was triggered by a whistleblower’s complaint against Trump over his pressuring the president of Ukraine to investigate the former vice president and his son Hunter, who served until earlier this year on the board of Burisma Holdings, Ukrainian energy company.

The White House released a memo summarizing Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a conversation Trump had defended as “perfect.” The call was part of a whistleblower’s complaint against the president, which led to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement late last month of a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump.

Since then, a flurry of developments have given added impetus to the impeachment probe.

Speaking to reporters on the White House lawn last week, Trump called on China to investigate the Bidens because “nobody has any doubt that they weren’t crooked.” But the president has yet to provide evidence of any wrongdoing.

In 2016, then-Vice President Biden pressured Ukraine to remove its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who had investigated Burisma. But Shokin’s investigation had been closed by the time Biden made the demand on the Ukrainian government. And the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, along with several congressional Republicans, shared the Obama administration’s view of Shokin as corrupt.

Biden’s response to Trump’s attacks over recent weeks has been criticized as slow and ineffective by some Democrats, raising unpleasant memories of the “Swift Boat” attacks by Republicans on Democratic nominee John Kerry in 2004.

“We’re not going to play Donald Trump’s game,” Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s campaign manager, said on CNN Tuesday. “We’re not going to let him distract from the corruption in his own administration.”

Trump was quick to reply to Biden's impeachment call.

"So pathetic to see Sleepy Joe Biden, who with his son, Hunter, and to the detriment of the American Taxpayer, has ripped off at least two countries for millions of dollars, calling for my impeachment — and I did nothing wrong," the president tweeted. "Joe’s Failing Campaign gave him no other choice!"

Biden responded in kind.

"Thanks for watching," the former vice president tweeted. "Stop stonewalling the Congress. Honor your oath. Respect the Constitution. And speaking of taxpayers, I’ve released 21 years of my tax returns. You?"