Rep. Steve Cohen (D), a Tennessee liberal, announced Thursday that he will introduce articles of impeachment against President Trump based on his defense of the white supremacists who participated in a deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.
“Instead of unequivocally condemning hateful actions by neo-Nazis, white nationalists and Klansmen following a national tragedy, the President said ‘there were very fine people on both sides.’ There are no good Nazis. There are no good Klansmen,” Cohen said in a statement.
“President Trump has failed the presidential test of moral leadership.”
Cohen’s decision follows on the heels of a similar effort by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), who last month introduced his own articles of impeachment contending Trump obstructed justice amid the federal investigation into Russia’s interference with the 2016 presidential election. Rep. Al Green(D-Texas) is the only other Democrat to endorse Sherman’s resolution.
Democratic leaders have sought throughout the year to discourage such an aggressive strategy against Trump, fearing that it could both undercut the ongoing Russia investigations and politicize those probes in ways that might damage Democrats in their districts. The Democrats last month launched a 2018 messaging agenda that doesn’t mention Trump at all.
But last weekend’s violent marches in Charlottesville have sparked new levels of Democratic outrage against the president, whose initial response was to blame “many sides” for the bloodshed in Virginia; he has now doubled down on that contention. Speaking Tuesday from Trump Tower in New York City, the president condemned the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence” of groups like neo-Nazis, but also accused the counterprotesters — the “alt-left,” by his term — of being “very, very violent” and contributing to the tragic events.
“You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” Trump said on Tuesday from Trump Tower in Manhattan. “Nobody wants to say that. But I’ll say it right now.”
The Democrats have pounded Trump relentlessly over his response, and at least two House lawmakers — Reps. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) and Jackie Spier (D-Calif.) — have called this week for his removal from office. Speier, in doing so, invoked the 25th Amendment, which outlines Congress’s impeachment powers, but stopped short of announcing plans to introduce her own articles of impeachment.
Cohen, who last month had introduced a resolution of no confidence in Trump, said the Charlottesville episode left them no choice but to take the effort a step further in pushing for impeachment.
“As a Jew and as an American and as a representative of an African American district, I am revolted by the fact that the President of the United States couldn’t stand up and unequivocally condemn Nazis who want to kill Jews and whose predecessors murdered 6 million Jews during the Holocaust, and could not unequivocally condemn Klansmen whose organization is dedicated to terrorizing African Americans,” Cohen said.
“No moral president would ever shy away from outright condemning hate, intolerance and bigotry.”