WASHINGTON, Jan 5, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – A Democratic congresswoman kicked off
her term with an expletive-laced vow to impeach Donald Trump, testing her
party’s discipline and earning a chiding Friday from the president.
As a clip of Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib’s animated comments
circulated widely on social media, Trump tartly dismissed the threat of
impeachment, while the newly elected Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
appeared loath to reign in the congresswoman’s language.
“How do you impeach a president who has won perhaps the greatest election
of all time?” Trump said on Twitter, saying Democrats only consider
impeachment “because they know they can’t win in 2020.”
At an event hours after her swearing-in on Thursday, Tlaib told supporters
that “we are gonna go in there and we’re gonna impeach the motherfucker.”
The crowd roared, and Tlaib hugged supporters.
Salty language by US lawmakers — or presidents, for that matter — is
nothing new. Trump, hardly the paradigm of verbal decency, last year derided
African nations as “shithole” countries, after all.
But when Trump was asked about his critic’s comments, he said they were
“disgraceful,” and “highly disrespectful to the United States of America.”
“I think she dishonored herself and I think she dishonored her family,
using language like that,” he added.
The timing and optics of Tlaib’s outburst are notable.
Democrats have just won control of the House of Representatives, after
eight years in the minority. Tlaib, 42, is one in a cadre of ebullient,
media-savvy rising stars — the self-described “radical” Alexandria Ocasio-
Cortez is another — who aim to shake up Washington’s status quo.
Such progressives will be eager to push back against an administration
they believe has abused its authority in the nearly two years since Trump’s
inauguration. Doubling down on her outburst, Tlaib — the first Palestinian-
American elected to Congress — tweeted Friday: “I will always speak truth to
But she dodged reporters repeatedly asking about her remarks.
Tlaib found support on Twitter, where #ImpeachTheMF was a trending item in
the United States on Friday night, with more than 110,000 tweets.
– No ‘censorship’ –
As the chamber’s new speaker, the 78-year-old Pelosi is challenged with
keeping Trump — as well as the more radical elements of her own party — in
Pelosi sought to downplay Tlaib’s potty mouth.
“I probably have a generational reaction to it. But in any event I’m not
in the censorship business,” she said in comments aired Friday on MSNBC.
“But I don’t think it’s any worse than what the president has said.”
Republicans have bridled at Tlaib’s comments, using them to portray
Democrats as seeking politically-motivated retribution against Trump rather
than common ground.
“We watched a new freshman stand up, use this language, get cheered by
their base, and we watched a brand new speaker say nothing to her,” top House
Republican Kevin McCarthy said.
“That action should not stand.”
Democrats who support impeachment have argued that Trump obstructed
justice by firing former FBI director James Comey, and that hush payments to
at least two women made by his personal attorney during the presidential race
violated campaign finance laws.
As a long-time Trump critic, Tlaib made calls for his impeachment central
to her campaign — and was once arrested for heckling the then-candidate
during his White House run.
“The time for impeachment proceedings is now,” she wrote in a co-authored
op-ed published in the Detroit Free Press newspaper the morning of her entry
House Democrat Brad Sherman agrees, and on Thursday formally introduced
impeachment measures against Trump. They are unlikely to get a vote on the
House floor, at least for now.
Even if Democrats believe some of Trump’s actions clear the threshold of
“high crimes and misdemeanors,” Pelosi has downplayed the prospects of
impeachment, saying it’s “not something that I’m stirring the pot on.”
She wants special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian
electoral interference — and possible collusion with Trump’s campaign — to
run its course before Congress decides about taking such a serious step.
Equally pressing, Pelosi must contend with liberal Democrats seeking to
pull the party leftward in the run up to the 2020 election.
New York’s Ocasio-Cortez, who last year unseated the fourth highest-
ranking House Democrat in a shock primary, told the CBS show “60 Minutes”
that she wants US tax rates to return to “as high as 60 or 70 percent” for
the wealthiest Americans, in order to pay for an ambitious plan to fight