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Impeachment is a "gigantic distraction," Biden says at campaign event

Buttigieg: Trump deserves to be impeached

Vice President Joe Biden, the current 2020 Democratic frontrunner, said Tuesday that if President Trump does not cooperate with the House of Representatives' investigation, then "Congress has no option but to begin impeachment inquiry." But Biden said at a campaign rally that he thinks it would be a distraction from more important issues.

"I am not looking forward to an impeachment process – I really mean it," Biden said. "I think it's a gigantic distraction from things we should be focusing on getting done. But the truth of the matter is there is a Constitutional investigation. I'm going to do it a different way. Beat him."

During a Q&A after Biden's remarks at the IBEW Local 490 in Concord, New Hampshire, an 11-year-old asked Biden about impeachment. While some of Biden's 2020 rivals have endorsed the House moving forward on impeachment proceedings, Biden has stopped short. 

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, one of Biden's rivals for the 2020 Democratic nomination, said Monday at an MSNBC town hall that he would vote to impeach Mr. Trump if he could. Of the 2020 Democratic candidates, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke and former Obama housing chief Julian Castro have been the most vocal for the House to start impeachment proceedings. Two other candidates who are currently in the House and could potentially vote on impeachment, Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, and Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, have also said they support impeachment proceedings. 

Although there was initially some skepticism among Democratic lawmakers after the release of the Mueller report, more are now calling for an impeachment inquiry. And last month, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan became the first Republican to call for impeachment. 

Former Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid -- who as recently as last month had cautioned against impeachment -- this week called for the House to open an impeachment inquiry.

"It's not the right thing to do nothing," Reid said in an interview Monday with USA Today. "It's not the right thing to jump into impeachment without doing an inquiry."  

Both Biden and Reid were in the Senate in 1998-99 when the House impeached former President Bill Clinton but the Senate -- by a 55-45 vote that included 10 Republicans -- decided not to convict him and remove him from office. 

Nicole Sganga contributed to this report. 

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