Donald Trump committed an impeachable offense in plain sight on Thursday. While he may be trying to muddy the waters with the Ukraine scandal, if there is any justice, he won’t be able to do so with what he did on Thursday. He unleashed an overtly racist social media attack on a congressman who is leading the effort to oust him–a congressman who happens to be a minority.
In case you missed it, Trump opened fire on House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff around lunchtime on Thursday. He was peddling and amplifying the Republican talking point that Schiff has been less than honest in his role as the de facto point man in the House impeachment inquiry.
This would be just a garden variety Trump tirade except for one thing. Schiff is Jewish. If you seriously believe that a guy from Queens wouldn’t have known exactly what he was doing by calling a Jewish congressman “human scum,” there’s a bridge in Brooklyn up for sale.
What makes it even more egregious is that this is at least the second time Trump has fired off an indisputably racist attack at minority lawmakers. If you’ll remember, in late September, he slammed several Democratic lawmakers as “savages.” In case you missed it, here are the original Facebook and Twitter posts.
Schiff and House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler are Jewish. “AOC Plus 3”–better known as “The Squad”–are women of color. Specifically, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is Latina, Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar are black, and Rashida Tlaib is Palestinian.
When I saw those posts, I was reminded of an op-ed Shaun King wrote in The Intercept in July, in the aftermath of Trump famously telling the Squad to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” King argued that such a statement was in and of itself impeachable, since a president who displays “open, flagrant bigotry” cannot honestly take or uphold the oath of office.
King pointed out that nearly every reputable employer recognizes that “bigotry is dangerous,” literally–and for that reason, “overtly racist people are fired from every single type of place of employment.” Additionally, a number of prosecutors have begun ignoring cases from cops who have displayed clear bias against minority groups. He argued that by that same standard, Trump’s overt racism was reason by itself to remove him, since “the president of the United States should be held to a higher standard than an entry-level employee” at any reputable company.
Trump may have been able to maintain a shred of plausible deniability with that “go back” remark. After all, he did say that the Squad could “come back and show us how it’s done.” But he could not credibly make that excuse with that “savages” tweet directed at four minority lawmakers. And he certainly cannot make that excuse with his latest tweet calling Schiff “human scum.”
Any doubt that Trump’s racist tweets should not be in and of themselves impeachable was erased when I read about a white teenager in Naperville, Illinois who is now facing hate crime charges for posting an ad to Craigslist offering one of his black classmates for sale as a slave. Watch coverage from WGN-TV in Chicago here.
Even if he manages to avoid jail or probation, this kid has almost certainly cost himself any shot of going to college, and will have to spend most of his life, if not the rest of his life, explaining why he pulled such a stunt. If a teenager has to pay a stiff price for overt racism, why shouldn’t the president of the United States?
For at least a quarter-century, the GOP has insisted that it wants government to live by the same rules as the rest of us. Well, this is the time for the powers that be in the GOP to put their money where their mouths are. If they really believe our elected officials should follow the same rules as the rest of us, then they should vote to impeach and remove Trump for overt racism.
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