Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen (Tenn.) on Thursday announced that he will introduce articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump for what he perceived as Trump's defense of white supremacists at the deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va. last 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 will not be the first Democrat to introduce articles of impeachment against Trump; Rep. Brad Sherman (Calif.) introduced his articles of impeachment "contending Trump obstructed justice amid the federal investigation into Russia's interference with the 2016 presidential election," according to the Hill.
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.
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 has been talking about potential impeachment since mid-May when he said, "My belly says go forward with impeachment, but my brain says wait until… facts are more developed."
— Drew Petrimoulx (@DrewPetrimoulx) May 17, 2017
Cohen introduced a resolution of "no confidence" in Trump last month because he believed the president had been exhibiting "offensive behavior" and had "taken the unprecedented action in the modern era of refusing to release his tax returns."
He said Thursday that Trump's response to the Charlottesville violence left him no choice but to push for him to be impeached, according to the Hill.
"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."