House Dems push to censure Trump over Charlottesville response
A trio of House Democrats unveiled a resolution on Wednesday that would censure President Trump for his handling of the violence stemming from the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va.
The resolution would censure and condemn Trump for reasserting this week that “both sides” were to blame for the violence between white supremacists attending the “Unite the Right” rally to protest the city’s removal of a Confederate statue and counterprotesters. A man with ties to far-right groups has been charged with second-degree murder after ramming his car into a group of counterprotesters, leaving one woman dead and more than a dozen people injured.
Authored by Democratic Reps. Jerry Nadler (N.Y.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.), the measure condemns Trump for his “inadequate response to the violence” and “failure to immediately and specifically name and condemn the white supremacist groups responsible for actions of domestic terrorism.”
It also specifically condemns Trump for employing chief strategist Stephen Bannon and national security aide Sebastian Gorka in the White House for their “ties to white supremacist movements.”
Bannon previously led Breitbart News, which he described as a “platform for the alt-right,” while Gorka worked there as a national security editor.
“If you look at both sides — I think there’s blame on both sides,” Trump said during a press conference at his namesake tower in New York City.
When asked about the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who initiated the rally, Trump added: “You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”
Presidential censures have rarely ever been used in U.S. history.
The Senate has voted just once to censure a president: Andrew Jackson in 1834, on the basis that his actions to dismantle the Bank of the United States amounted to an abuse of power. But Jackson’s allies gained a Senate majority and revoked the resolution three years later.
The House has considered measures only a handful of times to censure or rebuke presidents, such as John Tyler in 1842 for abuse of powers and James Buchanan in 1860 over his handling of Navy contracts.
No president has ever been rebuked by both the House and Senate at the same time.
Some lawmakers pushed to censure President Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial in 1998 instead of outright impeaching him, but were unsuccessful.
Jayapal also introduced a resolution on Tuesday that condemned the violence in Charlottesville and the series of equivocal statements made by Trump. Her resolution similarly called for the removal of White House employees “who have supported or encouraged support for white supremacists” but didn’t specifically mention Bannon or Gorka by name.
Trump originally over the weekend blamed the conflicts on “many sides.”
Two days later, and under immense pressure from Republicans and Democrats alike, Trump delivered a statement from the White House declaring that “racism is evil” and specifically singled out “the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
But on Tuesday, Trump insisted again that the two sides were both at fault for the violence.
“You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say it, but I will say it right now,” Trump said.
This story was updated at 1:41 p.m.