Kamala Harris and Tom Steyer try to stand out on impeachment in crowded Democratic debate

Questions about impeachment gave Kamala Harris and Tom Steyer the chance to stand out on the most crowded presidential debate stage in history Tuesday night, with the two Californians making impassioned arguments for yanking President Trump from office.

All of the candidates in the 12-person Ohio debate backed House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, arguing that Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden merited starting the process. Both Golden State candidates highlighted their own records on the issue, with Harris playing up her prosecutorial background and Steyer pointing out he endorsed impeachment before any other White House hopeful.

Harris, the former San Francisco district attorney and California attorney general, all but declared Trump guilty, saying, “As a former prosecutor, I know a confession when I see it.”

Asked whether it was fair for her to say now that she would vote to remove Trump — based on what she’s seen so far — the California senator responded that “it’s just being observant.”

“He did it in plain sight,” she said, accusing Trump of “selling out our democracy.”

In his first-ever appearance in a political debate as a candidate, Steyer — a former hedge fund chief and major Democratic donor from San Francisco — reminded viewers that he’d been ahead of the pack, first bankrolling a campaign calling for Trump to be removed from office two years ago.

“I knew there was something desperately wrong at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, that we did have the most corrupt president” in history, Steyer said. “Only the voice and the will of the American people would drag Washington to see it as a matter of right and wrong, not a political expediency.”

Harris also leaned into her prosecutorial record again on the issue of the opioid crisis, calling for executives of big pharmaceutical companies to be locked up.

“I do think of this as a matter of justice and accountability, because they are nothing more than some high-level dope dealers,” Harris said, blasting the companies for false advertising practices that she said helped hook Americans on their drugs.

And she was met with cheers from Democrats in the debate hall with an impassioned call for protecting reproductive rights. Pivoting away from a back-and-forth over Medicare-for-all — a topic that’s tripped her up in the past — Harris denounced past debates’ lack of attention on new state laws restricting abortion, saying “people need to keep their hands off of women’s bodies and let women make the decisions about their own lives.”

But another attack didn’t seem to go Harris’ way. In a discussion about breaking up big tech companies, Harris focused on her call for Twitter to ban Trump from the social network, calling out Sen. Elizabeth Warren — one of the race’s two frontrunners — for not joining her.

“I don’t just want to push Donald Trump off Twitter, I want to push him out of the White House,” Warren responded. “That’s our job.”

Steyer defused a potentially awkward question about his wealth, after Sen. Bernie Sanders declared “we cannot afford a billionaire class whose greed and corruption has been at war with working class families.”

“Senator Sanders is right,” Steyer — the only billionaire on the stage — responded, talking up his support for a wealth tax and increased protections for labor rights and calling excessive corporate power “absolutely wrong, undemocratic and unfair.”

“Not even the billionaire wants to protect billionaires,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar quipped a few minutes later.