By Cash Michaels –
Now that Congress is back in session, there are plenty of issues that lawmakers must address, including writing a budget and paying for that wall Donald Trump still insists Mexico will ultimately underwrite…one way or another.
But also happening is intense behind-the-scenes strategizing on the part of the 49-member Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to have President Donald J. Trump impeached.
“When members return to Congress in September, the CBC will have a robust discussion on #Impeachment,” an August 22nd tweet from the CBC announced.
Impeaching a U.S. president is a two-step process. First, the House of Representatives formally levels charges (indictments) against the commander-in-chief; then the Senate votes either to convict or acquit the president. Bill Clinton was impeached in December 1998, but the Senate acquitted him the following February.
While things went sour fast between the CBC and Trump shortly after he took office in January, it was Trump’s moral equivocation between armed white supremacists and mostly unarmed counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va. on August 12th—a violent confrontation that resulted in the death of a counter-protester by a car allegedly driven by a neo-Nazi—that convinced members of the CBC, along with many Democratic and Republican colleagues, that neither Trump, nor key officials in his administration, possessed the moral standing to lead the nation.
Several days later, when the president doubled down on his position by calling some of the white nationalists “fine people,” the outrage from the CBC could not be contained.
“You can make an argument based on pure competency and fitness to serve, and that’s the conversation the caucus will have,” CBC Chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), told reporters during a teleconference two weeks ago, noting that the Caucus was also committed to ridding white supremacists from the federal government, and certainly from the Trump administration.
“I never thought I would see the day when the president of the United States would openly defend white supremacists,” Rep. Richmond later said in a statement. “I call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to hold this president accountable.”
North Carolina’s two black representatives joined the chair in expressing their outrage. “President Trump has tragically become the divisive demagogue we feared he would be,” said Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC-12) in an August 16th statement, in which she also called Trump’s comments “erratic and despicable.”
“Upon election, he took a sacred oath to represent every American, regardless of race, religion, or creed, yet sadly Donald Trump has failed at this most basic responsibility. Instead of being a steady leader in a time of national crisis, he has recklessly turned to the podium to once again make a mockery of the presidency and of the citizens he swore to serve.
“We can no longer justify or tolerate these actions,” Rep. Adams continued. “I call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do what this President has failed to do. It is time for us to stand united and resolute in our efforts to fight racism, bigotry, and hate. In the absence of a true leader, Congress must step up and defend our progress, unify our nation, and hold this administration accountable.”
Fellow Tar Heel Rep. G, K. Butterfield (D-NC-1), the immediate past chairman of the CBC, was equally disturbed.
“I was disappointed that President Trump waited two days before specifically condemning the Charlottesville terror attack and the violence perpetrated by white supremacist groups,” Butterfield said in an August 15th statement. “His failure to immediately and powerfully condemn these terror groups by name was a clear message that he is supportive of or indifferent to their cause based on ideology or politics, either of which is unacceptable for an American president.”
Members of the CBC had met with Trump in March after he was inaugurated, but in June, they decided to cancel a follow-up meeting, saying that not only did they not see any evidence that he had acted on any of the important issues they had initially discussed, but that there was evidence of White House policies that would “affirmatively hurt Black communities.”
One such example was a follow-up conference Trump is planning with the presidents and chancellors of historically black colleges and universities. The first was held last February.
Both representatives Richmond and Adams, who is the co-chair of the HBCU Bi-partisan Caucus in Congress, asked Trump to cancel that gathering in the aftermath of his controversial comments about Charlottesville. Richmond said the president’s remarks showed he has little concern for the welfare of black students or their communities.
“Not only do I think it should be postponed, it shouldn’t have been happening in the first place,” Richmond told reporters. “This White House isn’t serious about improving our HBCUs… They brought all those HBCU presidents to town, they took a picture in the Oval Office, and then they did nothing.”
Rep. Adams added, “I call on the President and [Education] Secretary DeVos to postpone this year’s conference until a serious effort has been made to advance issues important to HBCUs and their students.”
Apparently, due to a large number of cancelled appearances by HBCU officials, the conference, while is still scheduled, has been “downsized,” published reports say.
Previously Texas Rep. Al Green and California Congresswoman Maxine Waters have called for Trump’s impeachment, based largely on allegations of campaign collusion with the Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign. Green has drafted articles of impeachment on charges of obstruction of justice.
“Am I concerned about high crimes and misdemeanors? Absolutely,” CBC Chair Richmond told reporters two weeks ago. “Am I concerned about this president’s fitness to serve? Absolutely.”