(CN) – Democratic candidate Joe Biden called on Congress to impeach President Donald Trump for the first time on Wednesday.
“In full view of the American people, Donald Trump has violated his oath of office, betrayed this nation and committed impeachable acts,” Biden said during a campaign stop in New Hampshire. “To preserve our Constitution, our democracy, and our basic integrity, he should be impeached.”
The call for impeachment represents a new milestone for the vice president, who before Wednesday had taken a more measured and cautious tack regarding the impeachment inquiry of the president.
Biden contrasted himself with fellow Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren, who called for the articles of impeachment to be drawn up after the Mueller report was released.
But Biden and several other leading Democrats took the temperature of the American public, noting impeachment at that stage was broadly unpopular, and restrained the calls for impeachment emanating from the party’s more progressive wing.
Biden’s new position could reflect changing national attitudes toward impeachment. About 48% of the American public supports the impeachment inquiry as of Wednesday, according to FiveThirtyEight, which combines the results of several national polls. Only 43% said they did not support the inquiry.
The question of whether voters support the inquiry is a different matter than whether they will support removing Trump from office, but Biden argued Wednesday that the Trump administration’s decision to stonewall the Congress constitutes impeachment on its face.
“President Trump has indicted himself by obstructing justice, refusing to comply with a congressional inquiry,” Biden said. “He’s already convicted himself.”
Trump wasted no time in lashing out at Biden on Twitter on Wednesday, opting for his usual mix of counterattack and insults.
“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,” Trump tweeted. “Joe’s Failing Campaign gave him no other choice!”