When Congress returns from its recess in September, Democratic and Republican members should join together in a vote to censure President Donald J. Trump for conduct unfit for the American presidency and in violation of the principles of our country.

The main article of censure should be a rejection and repudiation of Trump’s conduct after the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., and his chronic pattern and practice of conduct that gives aid, comfort and support to bigotry in various forms.

The second article of censure should repudiate Trump’s repeated praise for foreign dictators, his refusal to unequivocally accept that Russia aggressively intervened in our 2016 election, his grotesque attacks against American intelligence services when he compared them to Nazi Germany, and his attacks against our free press, which he called the enemy of the people.

The third article of censure should condemn Trump’s shameless use the presidency to market properties he owns and maximize the money he makes, which may well violate the emoluments clause of the Constitution and certainly demands a formal repudiation by Congress.

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In recent days the American people, members of Congress and the world have witnessed the unprecedented travesty of a president of the United States making statements that generated applause and thanks from white supremacist and anti-Semitic leaders who supported his candidacy and support his presidency.

 

Yesterday, before Trump made his latest comments, I wrote in The Hill that the president refuses to unequivocally condemn racists and bigots because he considers them to be a valuable part of his political base.

Then, during those comments, Trump confirmed this suspicion and more — and the praise he received afterward from racists and bigots was one of the darkest moments in the history of the presidency. 

Understand the enormity of the ominous truth that outright racists are proudly boasting today that they have a friend and supporter in the president of the United States. For this the president should be censured, repudiated and condemned by members of the House and Senate! 

When Trump attacked American intelligence services and called them Nazis for trying to defend America from Russian aggression against our democracy, he soiled the presidency in a manner that no previous commander in chief has ever done. For this he should be censured by a vote in the Senate and House.

When Trump made his ignorant and racist-friendly comments after the tragedy in Charlottesville, he soiled the presidency and divided the nation in ways that are unworthy of any leader of our nation. For this he should be repudiated and censured by votes in the Senate and House.

The founding fathers would be scandalized and appalled that anyone who serves as president could use the bully pulpit of the presidency to market his business and make money for himself. For this Trump should be repudiated and censured by a vote of the House and Senate.

Never before in my career, working at high levels in the House and Senate and as a columnist in recent years, have I witnessed so much difference between what politicians say publicly and what they believe privately.

Republicans in the House and Senate, and in state houses across the nation, now face the true test of political honor. Do they have the courage to say publicly what so many of them believe privately? Do they feel the sense of duty and honor to tell the country that Trump’s behavior makes him unfit for the presidency and destructive to the nation? 

For practical purposes, Trump is the first Confederate president of the United States. He is the only president elected with the aggressive support of a foreign dictator, whom he has often praised.

There are Republicans such as Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamWhy Trump's bigoted tropes won't work in 2020 The Memo: Toxic 2020 is unavoidable conclusion from Trump tweets GOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm MORE (S.C.) who helped lead the fight to impeach former President Clinton for nothing when he served in the House, who has a moral duty to speak the unvarnished truth about what he privately believes about Donald Trump.

There are Republicans such as Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (Tenn.) who are good and decent people but owe their constituents and the nation the full truth about what they think about Donald Trump.

There are conservatives such as Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake urges Republicans to condemn 'vile and offensive' Trump tweets Flake responds to Trump, Jimmy Carter barbs: 'We need to stop trying to disqualify each other' Jeff Flake responds to Trump's 'greener pastures' dig on former GOP lawmakers MORE (Ariz.), who wrote a prominent book about how Trump is a danger to conservatism and America but voted in lockstep with Trump on major issues, one after another, time and time again. Will Flake begin acting like the check and balance against Trump he claims to be in his book, or will he continue to act like Trump’s poodle on the floor of the U.S. Senate?

There are more moderate and temperate Republicans, such as Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm GOP senator: 'Outrageous' to say Trump's tweets about Democratic congresswomen are racist Fox personalities blast Trump's remarks MORE (Maine), who should consider whether it is time for them to leave the Republican Party, either crossing the aisle to become conservative Democrats or becoming pure political independents and joining the resistance to Trump without reservation.

When Congress returns from its recess in September, Republicans should join Democrats in the House and Senate to vote for a resolution to censure President TrumpDonald John TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA MORE.

In a secret vote that reflects the conscience and conviction of members of the House and Senate, this resolution of censure would be overwhelmingly approved with considerable Republican support.

There is a time and place for leaders of integrity to make a stand. After Trump’s reprehensible behavior in recent days, now is the time and this is the place. 

Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), then-chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. in international financial law from the London School of Economics.  


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