A Democrat intends to introduce impeachment articles against Donald Trump over the President's response to a violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“I have expressed great concerns about President Trump’s ability to lead our country in the Resolution of No Confidence (HRes 456) that I introduced in July with 29 of my colleagues,” Representative Steve Cohen said in a statement. “However, after the President’s comments on Saturday, August 12 and again on Tuesday, August 15 in response to the horrific events in Charlottesville, I believe the President should be impeached and removed from office.”
White nationalist demonstrators last Saturday descended on Charlottesville to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee. The rally, met by counter-protests, quickly became violent – prompting the governor to declare a ‘state of emergency’.
Mr Trump has received widespread bipartisan criticism for his comments on Tuesday insisting that white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups did not deserve 100 per cent of the blame for the violence that resulted in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
Speaking from Trump Tower in New York, Mr Trump said there were “some very bad people” among the protesters, but added, “You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”
In his statement on Thursday, Mr Cohen lambasted the President for not “unequivocally condemning hateful actions by neo-Nazis, white nationalists and Klansmen following a national tragedy.”
“There are no good Nazis. There are no good Klansmen,” he added.
Mr Cohen, a Tennessee liberal, is the highest ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. His declaration that he will try to get Mr Trump removed from office follows a similar effort by Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman.
Mr Sherman in July introduced his own articles of impeachment against Mr Trump, asserting that the President obstructed justice during a federal investigation into Trump campaign advisers' alleged ties to Russia.
Democrats have quietly been discussing the possibility of impeaching Mr Trump for months, but party leaders have discouraged the talk.
“If you are talking about impeachment, you are talking about what are the facts. Not that I don’t like him and I don’t like his hair and — what are the facts?” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said in May. “What are the facts that you would make a case on? What are the rules that he may have violated? If you don’t have that case you are just participating in more hearsay.”
On Tuesday, Mr Cohen suggested that he felt morally and legally obligated to introduce articles of 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,” Mr Cohen said.
“No moral president would ever shy away from outright condemning hate, intolerance and bigotry.”
A new poll by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) shows that 40 per cent of Americans – including almost 75 per cent of Democrats and seven per cent of Republicans – back impeaching the President and removing him from office. This is a big jump from the 30 per cent of Americans who supported the idea in February, according to NBC News.