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To begin an impeachment inquiry or not? That is the question looming over the heads of House Democrats, all of whom are back in their home districts for summer recess.
Perhaps the summer break will offer a chance for them to ask the constituents themselves, although, based on national polls, they should already have a pretty good idea:
According to a recent CNN tally, there are now 118 House Democrats — just over half of the 235 caucus members — who have spoken out in favor of an impeachment inquiry. And a Quinnipiac poll from July 30 found that 62 percent of Democratic voters want Congress to begin an immediate process to impeach.
So where do the House members representing Central and East Brooklyn– overwhelmingly blue districts– stand on an impeachment inquiry?
While Congresswomen Nydia Velazquez– who represents the 7th Congressional District, including Bushwick and Williamsburg– and Yvette Clarke– who represents the 9th Congressional District, which includes Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Prospect Heights– both have been vocal about their support for impeachment of President Donald Trump; Congressman Hakeem Jeffries– who is chairman of the Democratic Caucus and who represents the 8th Congressional District including Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bedford Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, Brownsville and East New York, along with the South Brooklyn Neighborhoods of Bergen Beach, Gerritsen Beach, Howard Beach, Marine Park, and Mill Basin– seemingly has not arrived at that same decision.
And some in his district want to know why.
“We have a white nationalist in the presidency– one who upholds racist policies, makes racists statements on a daily basis and emboldens racists to violent acts… And we have a representative who is unsure about whether or not he can join his colleagues who are ready to act on impeachment?” said Reginald Richardson, a Bed-Stuy resident and a high school principal.
Richardson says he’s called Rep. Jeffries’ office three times to ask why he does not support an impeachment inquiry. But he said he has yet to receive an answer from the congressman nor a return phone call.
“Not only is Central Brooklyn a blue district, it’s a black district. It’s a black district with black people. It’s not only his Constitutional duty, it’s his moral duty. And if he can’t be clear on that, he has to go!”
But Jeffries’ district is not all black… nor blue. The Congressman represents a large swath of South Brooklyn, mostly white, blue-collar neighborhoods, many of whom support Donald Trump.
Still, calls for an impeachment inquiry have grown louder, not only in Brooklyn, but also nationwide, since Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller concluded his investigation and published his report in April. Additionally, the pro-impeachment faction inside the House has gained steam, following Mueller’s testimony in front of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees on July 24.
Rep. Clarke has long been a proponent of impeachment, even taking to Twitter to express her support: “We have to remove Donald Trump from the White House as soon as possible,” Clarke tweeted in May 2017. She then backed articles of impeachment filed by Rep. Al Green of Texas in July. However, the motion was tabled.
In June, Rep. Velazquez, issued a lengthy statement explaining how she arrived at her decision to support an impeachment inquiry:
“Robert Mueller made clear in his report that he believed DOJ policy legally prohibited him from indicting a sitting president,” Velazquez stated. “The special counsel’s report also makes clear that it does not exonerate the president of criminal wrongdoing. I’ve long viewed impeachment as a last resort — not just because it is politically divisive, but also because such a course of action must be grounded in the facts. Given the facts available, I believe an impeachment inquiry is the only path forward. Congress has a solemn duty to hold this president accountable, and I intend to live up to that duty.”
Rep. Jeffries, however, believes it is important Congress allow the investigations currently underway in several house committees continue to play out:
“The Judiciary Committee should continue to follow the facts, apply the law and be guided by the Constitution, as it relates to holding the president accountable for any high crimes and misdemeanors that may have been committed,” said Jeffries in a statement from his office.However, unlike Velazquez who laid our her reasons for supporting impeachment in great detail, the congressman did not provide BK Reader with any further insight on how he arrived at his position, despite repeated requests.
So we asked Central Brooklynites to share their opinions.
Fort Greene resident Derek said he supports the beginning of an impeachment inquiry and wishes Democrats would act more aggressively in pursuing it:
“I don’t think it will be successful because of the nature of the process and the numbers in the Senate,” Derek said. “But I think the process is important to be able to articulate any potentially impeachment-worthy violations. I think that’s a process worthwhile because it would present the case to the public in greater detail.”
Ayesha and Keachie, who moved to Fort Greene from Greenpoint two years ago, also favor impeachment. For them, it’s about holding the president accountable. Initiating the process would be a way to document what they believe are impeachment-worthy crimes, they said.
“How much investigation do you need?” asked Ayesha. “There is so much proof already there. I’d say, let’s impeach. I think he needs to be held accountable. But I think they [the Democrats] are scared. Because if they remove Trump, what will be next? It’s Pence. And they don’t want that.“
“And even if he doesn’t get impeached and removed from office, at least there will be a record that the Democrats tried to hold him accountable,” added Keachia.
According to another Fort Greene woman, who asked to remain unnamed, Vice President Mike Pence is a good enough reason not to impeach. She considers him worse than Trump because of his ultra-conservative views, which she feels pose a great threat to women’s and LGBTQ rights.
“Do I believe Trump deserves impeachment? Absolutely,” she said. “But it’s important that Democrats stay on track so that Pence doesn’t take over, and I trust Nancy Pelosi that she knows what she’s doing. I’d rather let Trump ride out the clown show and get him voted out next year.”
But still others, like Richardson, remain frustrated that Democratic legislators are not lockstep about which way to move forward:
“It’s not even about him not getting reelected, because if he supported impeachment, he’s good,” Richardson said of Rep. Jeffries. “This is about him wanting to stay on the good side of Nancy Pelosi to make sure he is selected for the prime chairmanships and leaderships in the party. This is about his personal agenda.”
Well, if he’s around this weekend, Richardson can ask Rep. Jeffries about it in person: The congressman will be holding a “Congress on Your Corner” on Saturday, August 10, from 8:00am – 10:00am, at 950 Fulton Street, in front of the Adelphi Post Office.
“Made in Germany,” Andrea Leonhardt is the managing editor for BK Reader.
Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors in American studies and education, and a master’s...
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C. Zawadi Morris
C. Zawadi Morris is an award-winning journalist and a Chicago native who moved to Brooklyn in 1997. Ms. Morris holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration (and a minor in Spanish) from...
More by C. Zawadi Morris