By Lee Eric Smith
Despite his plans to introduce articles of impeachment, U. S. Congressman Steve Cohen (Ninth District) is realistic about the chances of actually removing President Donald Trump from the Oval Office anytime soon.
“Every long journey starts with the first step,” Cohen said Thursday afternoon in an exclusive talk with The New Tri-State Defender. “I don’t expect our articles to necessarily be the ones considered if there actually is impeachment. But it’s part of the process of giving awareness to the public and to members of Congress that this man needs to be impeached, that he has committed offenses and has been involved in conduct that shows the country would be at risk in the future.
“And that’s what impeachment is about. It’s not about convictions for past transgressions, it’s looking at whether a person can serve the country in a capacity that they’re supposed to,” Cohen added. “This man cannot do that.”
Cohen’s statement came after the Save Our Sons Empowerment Luncheon, hosted by the Memphis Urban League at the Holiday Inn – University of Memphis. Cohen made remarks at the event, admonishing guests to support the Urban League because the Trump Administration’s policies could mean less funding for social services — and a greater need for the Urban League.
In talking to the TSD, Cohen rattled off a string of Trump scandals — from maintaining his business interests to the costs of his golf trips to his attacks on the judiciary and the press. In Cohen’s mind, the danger of Trump’s policies required him to act.
“I see a man who, in my mind, is the worst human being in the world. And I mean that,” Cohen said. After a thoughtful pause, he continued. “There may be somebody in ISIS who’s worse. ISIS is worse, let me say that.”
Cohen, who is Jewish, was none too pleased with Trump’s response to white supremacists and racial violence in Charlottesville, Va.
“He showed he didn’t understand how to respond, how to rally the country against hatred and violence,” said Cohen, who said he’s become the target of racist trolls on the Internet. “The Ku Klux Klan and Nazis are the embodiment of evil. And the fact that he couldn’t unequivocally say that they are malevolent forces that need to be condemned is another indication that our democracy is at risk.”
Like many Americans, Cohen believes Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, is needed to address the gap in the social and political conversation.
“I would like President Obama to get more engaged in the public debate about issues,” Cohen said. “He’s done a little, especially in his remarks about Charlottesville, a stark difference from Trump’s.”
While Cohen respects Obama’s choice to leave the political stage so as not to disrupt his successor, he said Trump is not a normal president and these are not normal circumstances.
“After leaving office, presidents normally give their successor free range, some distance,” he said. “I understand that tradition, the precedent and from (Obama) being a gentleman. But this president is so different and he is such a threat to democracy. I think it’s important for him to take some positions. He’s probably the most popular government official in the country and I think his perspective would be appreciated.”
But with the way racial tensions are flaring right now, particularly with supremacists marching with torches, wouldn’t the re-emergence of the first African American to serve as president further divide the country?
“I don’t know if it’d be more divisive,” Cohen said. “With the vitriol that’s been hurled at me on Twitter and Facebook — which is racial, anti-Semitic, anti-African American — those people don’t like liberals and they don’t like Democrats. I don’t think there’s anything we can do to bring those people to the fore, to make them part of the American dream of having a tolerant, diverse community.”