Black lawmakers are launching a “root out racism” campaign this week that they say is intended to hold the Trump administration accountable for its actions on race.
The effort comes after President Trump roiled the country with his response to violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., that led to the death of a counterprotester.
Trump said both sides were to blame for the violence — the white supremacists and neo-Nazis and those protesting them. He also praised the “very fine people” who marched in solidarity with racist groups to protest Charlottesville’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Led by Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the “root out racism” campaign takes aim at the administration policies — and the White House personnel — the group says encourages discrimination against minorities.
“The CBC will keep its foot on the Trump administration’s neck by calling their racist and discriminatory policies what they are,” reads a list of CBC talking points distributed to members of the group this week.
The CBC has long criticized Trump’s approach to civil rights, voter protections, law enforcement tactics and a host of other issues they say target minorities unfairly. But the deadly protests in Charlottesville earlier this month have prompted a new degree of urgency underlying those concerns.
The CBC held a conference call two days after Trump’s press conference doubling down on his earlier remarks that both sides shared blame for Charlottesville to discuss a strategy.
As part of their multi-pronged effort, CBC members have called for hearings into the threat posed by white supremacist groups, offered resolutions to censure Trump and pushed to remove Confederate names from military bases and Confederate statues from the Capitol.
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The CBC will meet again in September, when Congress returns to Washington, for a “robust discussion” on the group’s approach to the impeachment question, according to a spokeswoman.
The CBC is also pressing Trump to sack the nationalist voices in the White House — a sign that last week’s departure of chief strategist Stephen Bannon wasn’t enough to ease their concerns with other aides who have the president’s ear.
Richmond last week had joined other minority Democrats in urging Trump to fire Bannon and two other top advisers, Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka — a message the CBC is vowing to amplify.
“If President Trump truly wants to start healing the country post-Charlottesville, he should fire the white supremacists working for him in the White House,” Richmond said.