Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee

Dems launch ‘no confidence’ resolution against Trump

July 19, 2017
In The News

A group of liberal House Democrats stepped up criticism of President Trump on Wednesday, introducing a “no confidence” resolution that officially questions Trump’s fitness to serve as commander in chief.

It logs a laundry list of controversies swirling around the president — including his campaign’s many contacts with Russian officials, his refusal to release his taxes, his verbal attacks on women and the press, and his firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Sponsored by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), the resolution has been endorsed by 23 more Democrats, including Reps. John Lewis (Ga.), a civil rights icon; John Yarmuth (Ky.), ranking member of the Budget Committee; David Cicilline (R.I.), who leads the Democrats’ policy and communications arm; and Judy Chu (Calif.), who heads the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

Trump’s track record, Cohen said, exposes “a president that you wouldn’t want your children to look up to.”

“The way he talks about women, the press, the language he uses, the use of Twitter — you don’t want him to be a role model,” Cohen said during a press briefing in the Capitol. “It’s injurious to our culture, and it’s injurious to … our foreign policy.”

The resolution has no chance of moving through the chamber, which is led by Republicans, who have largely defended Trump in the first six months of his tenure. And Cohen acknowledged that the effort is unlikely to sway a president known to buck the advice from even his closest associates.

“Is it going to have an effect on him? Apparently, his family members don’t have an effect on him; his Republican friends don’t; his Cabinet members don’t,” Cohen conceded.

But with Trump’s approval rating at historic lows, the Democrats are hoping to send a message to voters that they’re sympathetic to the public’s frustration with the White House.

“This is an attempt at a political intervention,” Cohen said.

Unveiling their resolution, the Democrats went after Trump over the recent news that he’d had a second conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a dinner for world leaders during the G-20 economic summit in Hamburg, Germany, earlier this month. The meeting was previously undisclosed, and the only interpreter at the table was reportedly provided by Moscow.

“This is not the behavior of the leader of the free world,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas).

The Democrats also lambasted Capitol Hill Republicans for defending Trump’s actions and his unconventional approach to governing.

“It is not normal,” said Chu. “Trump’s behavior is cruel and unethical, and it’s driving the people’s faith in government to dangerously low levels.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders have focused their anti-Trump efforts on creating an independent commission to investigate any possible collusion between the president and Russia. But Cohen said he first floated his no-confidence resolution in a Democratic Steering and Policy Committee meeting, where it won Pelosi’s blessing.

“She said she didn’t have a problem with us going forward with these types of actions,” said Cohen, the senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee’s subpanel on the Constitution. “She preferred people to stay focused on what she thinks is the most important item present, which is an independent prosecutor bill, which I support.”

The outside prosecutor bill has won scant support from Republicans — only Reps. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.) have signed on — and Cohen said he doesn’t expect any broader show of GOP backing unless Trump tries to fire Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor tapped to lead the Justice Department’s probe into Russian election meddling.

Cohen predicted such a firing is likely.

“At that point, I think Republicans will then call for an independent prosecutor,” he said.

Some Democrats have been critical of party leaders for focusing too intently on Trump — a strategy that backfired in November’s elections and left the Republicans pulling all the levers of power in Washington.

Those Democrats want the party to concentrate on jobs, wages, healthcare and other bread-and-butter economic issues that affect their constituents on a daily basis.

But Cohen and other supporters of the no confidence resolution rejected the notion that the Democrats can’t promote a jobs agenda and attack Trump simultaneously.

“You can do both,” he said. “You can attack the jobs and the economy front … and also question this president who puts our very values at stake and our democracy at stake.”

Chu agreed.

“These are not mutually exclusive tactics to take,” she said. “Yes, we have to concentrate on those issues, but that doesn’t mean that we ignore what President Trump is doing to undermine this country.”