Cristina Marcos and Mike Lillis, The Hill, February 1, 2018
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) are proving central to efforts to impeach President Trump.
Black lawmakers say that’s the result of Trump repeatedly stirring racial controversies, from personally attacking two members of the caucus to casting equal blame on white supremacists and counterprotesters for fatal violence in Charlottesville, Va., last summer.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), former head of the CBC, said the bitter feelings originated well before Trump arrived in office, when the real estate mogul began raising doubts about former President Obama’s birthplace — and, by extension, his authority to be president.
Just under two-thirds of the 48-member CBC has backed impeachment in House floor votes forced by Rep. Al Green (D-Texas), himself a CBC member. The CBC includes two senators, two nonvoting delegates and one Republican, Rep. Mia Love (Utah), who does not support impeaching Trump.
Most CBC members, including the group’s leader, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), sat down well before Trump reached the dais and refrained from joining the raucous applause emanating from the GOP side of the chamber.
And that’s just the reaction from CBC members who attended Trump’s State of the Union. More than half of the 14 House Democrats who boycotted the speech were members of the caucus.
The articles of impeachment put forth by Green don’t allege Trump has committed a crime; instead, they assert that Trump has “brought the high office of president of the United States in contempt, ridicule, disgrace and disrepute” and “has sown discord among the people of the United States.”
Green argued that Trump is “legitimizing bigotry” by aggravating such controversies.
“Saying that certain countries of color are s-hole countries … and then saying it as you’re discussing a ‘merit-based’ immigration policy. Is it really a merit-based policy, or a race-based policy masquerading as merit-based?” Green said. “This bigotry is being evinced in policy.”
A total of 58 Democrats first voted in support of Green’s articles of impeachment last month. But the number grew to 66 when Green forced another vote on Jan. 19 following Trump’s profane remarks.
Nearly all of the Democrats on the record in support of impeachment represent deep-blue districts where their constituents want their lawmakers to show resistance to Trump. Indeed, most CBC members hail from districts that are a lock for Democrats.
The fiery debate over race and ethnicity has been at the center of the current fight over the fate of so-called Dreamers, immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.
As part of legislation to salvage the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Trump and GOP leaders are pressing for new restrictions on the ability of U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents to bring relatives into the country. The Democrats refer to the program as one encouraging “family reunification,” while the Republicans label the process “chain migration.”
The reference to chains has stirred no lack of antipathy from CBC members, who have long accused Trump of advancing white nationalist sentiments and who think the president is blowing dog whistles to his white, conservative base.
Trump’s relationship with the CBC hasn’t been helped by his personal attacks on two of its members.
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the civil rights icon, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” shortly before the inauguration last year that he didn’t see Trump as a “legitimate” president. Trump drew bipartisan criticism when he tweeted in retaliation that Lewis is “all talk, talk, talk — no action or results. Sad!”
Trump later lashed out at Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), whom he called “wacky” on Twitter after she offered a critical account of his phone call to the wife of a fallen soldier.