NEW YORK — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year-old former bartender and Bernie Sanders campaign organizer who won a stunning congressional primary victory against a powerful New York incumbent Tuesday, said she would support impeaching President Donald Trump if she wins in November.
“I would support impeachment,” the first-time candidate told CNN Wednesday. “I think that, you know, we have the grounds to do it.
“Ultimately, what we need to focus on is ensuring that when people break the law … that we have to hold everyone accountable and that no person is above that law,” she added.
Ocasio-Cortez defeated Rep. Joe Crowley by a double-digit margin in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for New York’s 14th District.
Trump, perhaps unaware of Ocasio-Cortez’s politics, applauded Crowley’s defeat late Tuesday.
“Wow! Big Trump Hater Congressman Joe Crowley, who many expected was going to take Nancy Pelosi’s place, just LOST his primary election. In other words, he’s out!” Trump tweeted. “That is a big one that nobody saw happening. Perhaps he should have been nicer, and more respectful, to his President!”
While Crowley has been a vocal critic of the president, Ocasio-Cortez — who ran as a progressive alternative to Crowley — openly questioned Trump’s business ties and noted the ongoing federal investigations into the president’s campaign.
“I think that there are serious grounds in violations of the emoluments clause from day one,” she said. “I think that that is first and foremost one of the basic elements and violations on that and then — once again, it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen over the next few months. There are several investigations — one or more investigations happening — but I think from day one we had violations of the emoluments clause with the presidency.”
Ocasio-Cortez and other liberal candidates have run far to the left of moderate Democrats, calling for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement following Trump’s “zero tolerance” border policy of separating parents from their children, and backing a single-payer health plan.
Despite her support for impeachment, the political neophyte said sticking to the issues was her strongest advantage in taking down Crowley.
“We have to stick to the message: What are we proposing to the American people? Not ‘What are we fighting against?’” Ocasio-Cortez told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday. “We understand that we’re under an antagonistic administration, but what is the vision that is going to earn and deserve the support of working-class Americans? And we need to be explicit in that vision and legislation, not just ‘better,’ but what exactly is our plan?”
While Ocasio-Cortez surprised party insiders, some experts said her victory is emblematic of the current political climate and could pave the way for other surprises come November.
“It’s a sign that voters, Democrats in particular, are ready for a change,” one party insider told the New York Daily News.
Northeastern University political science professor Costas Panagopoulos noted that Trump’s 2016 win and the widening gulf between left and right will both play a major role in November.
“I think yesterday’s results signal several things, including a repudiation of the establishment and status quo that appears to be continuing,” Panagopoulos said. “You can see the impact of the polarization and the fact that primaries are dominated by the ideological extremes on both sides.
“I think that the theme of the outsider persists,” he added. “It remains a reflection of people’s growing frustration with the people in power.”
In Utah, another Trump critic pulled off a primary win.
Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and ex-presidential contender, easily won the GOP primary on his road to replacing retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch.
Romney called Trump a “fraud” and a “phony” during the 2016 election, but has since struck a more balanced tone. The president endorsed Romney and congratulated him on Tuesday night.
Romney vowed to stand up to Trump should the two Republicans disagree.
“I will support the president’s policies when I believe they are in the best interest of Utah and the nation,” Romney wrote Sunday in the Salt Lake Tribune, adding that the first year of the administration “exceeded my expectations.”
At the same time, Romney promised to “speak out when the president says or does something which is divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions.”