By KEVIN LIMITI
Congresswoman Yvette Clarke hosted a “town hall” Thursday where she and others gave Brooklynites in attendance an earful of the wrongs that they said President Trump had committed to warrant impeachment.
“Donald Trump has betrayed his oath of office to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America,” Clarke said to a crowd of around 60 people. “We have to determine what standard we believe in as a democracy,” she said, referring to the Muslim ban of an example of American values gone awry.
The town hall was held in the Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, decidedly friendly territory for anti-Trump sentiment.
All five of the speakers were women, a fact that Clarke pointed out to raucous cheering.
Clarke read snippets of the phone call transcript between Trump and the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meant to highlight in no uncertain terms that there was indeed a “quid pro quo” in which the President asked for dirt on his political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter in exchange for military aid. Ukraine is engaged in a civil war against Russian backed separatists.
The phrase “nobody is above the law” was echoed numerous times during the meeting, eliciting vocal approval and sometimes applause, showing that the oft repeated trope held weight in the room.
“Republicans on the Hill are really grasping at straws,” Clarke said regarding Republican criticisms that the impeachment inquiry was unfair and unconstitutional.
Republicans have been heavily critical of the impeachment inquiry. Trump, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, and a slew of commentators and pundits on Fox News have referred to the impeachment inquiry as a coup, a hyperbolic analysis that equates the violent overthrow of a government with the constitutional powers of congress to remove a president.
Brooklyn News Service asked Clarke afterwards why the scope of the investigation was geared specifically to the Ukraine scandal instead of the emolument’s clause and other alleged wrongdoing.
“We think it’s a lot more palatable for the American people and easier for them to follow,” she said, while mentioning that there was an investigation in regards to the emolument’s clause.
The emolument’s clause was meant to protect politicians from, “corrupting foreign influences.”
Former congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman was a member of the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate scandal of former President Richard Nixon. Holtzman wasted no time drawing parallels between the Nixon and Trump White House.
“Nixon was offering pardons to the Watergate burglars,” she recalled. “We know Trump was offering a pardon to [Paul] Manafort.”
Manafort is the former head of Trump’s 2016 election campaign and is now serving a jail sentence for tax and bank fraud.
“We have a president using the powers of his office to bully another country into interfering with our election.” added Holtzman “That’s a threat to our democracy. “If a president is not impeached for this, then when will a president be impeached?”
The reason for what Holtzman referred to as “Ukrainegate” was “winning an election at any cost.” She called on the audience to fight back against Trump.
“We are way down the road of tyranny and dictatorship,” she said.
CUNY Law Professor Natalie Gomez-Velez, cited the words of the U.S. Constitution on impeachment, giving a civic lesson with a refresher course on the three branches of government. The constitution itself says that the House of Representatives has the “sole power of impeachment.”
Avram Grumer of Prospect Heights put his view of impeachment in a nutshell: “Hell yeah!”
“Trump is obviously a criminal,” he said. “There is a long history of graft and corruption.”
Viola Jefferson of Midwood/Flatbush said that she supported the impeachment “lock, stock and barrel,” and that she attended the town hall in order to, “hear more from my congresswoman.”
Friendly territory indeed.