Calls increase for impeachment of US Pres. over response to Virginia attack

World Today

The controversy over President Donald Trump’s reaction to clashes between far-right groups and counter protestors continues with some calling for the president to be removed from office.

CGTN’S Toby Muse has more.

A Democratic congressman has said he will file articles of impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump. Steve Cohen, a representative in the lower house of Congress from the southern state of Tennessee, said Thursday that he’s taking the action because of the president’s handling of the racially charged violence last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“I’ve had Republicans tell me that they have serious concerns about this president’s mental facilities, capabilities, and his ability to lead,” said Cohen. “They’re afraid to publicly say that because of their districts.”

But the issue is unlikely to gain traction. The leader of the Democrats in the U.S. Congress, Nancy Pelosi, earlier this week effectively ruled out impeachment– for the moment.

The fact impeachment is even being discussed shows how white-hot this issue remains, and the president is stoking the controversy.

Trump tweeted Thursday: “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson – who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!”

The clashes in Charlottesville which killed one and injured dozens more came as far-right groups protested moves to take down monuments Confederate war heroes. The American Civil War took place more than 150 years ago when the Confederacy tried to secede from the Union with the aim of continuing slavery.

There are more than 1500 memorials to Confederate leaders and generals across the U-S. To avoid repeated violence between far-right groups and counter protesters, cities are accelerating plans to remove many of the statues.

“These are neo-fascist, neo-progressive marxists who don’t represent me or anybody else,” shouted one protester.  “The majority in Florida wants to keep these monuments,” shouted a monument supporter.

While the president’s words angered many, he found some support from those in the Republican Party.

“Some of the groups there were, you know, the KKK and neo-Nazis, but there were also a lot of, you know, just people who are normal people… not even necessarily in the conservative end of the spectrum who don’t want to see these historical monuments removed,” said Corey Stewart, who is from Virginia and a candidate for the U.S. Congress.

So why is the president keeping this controversy alive? There may be votes in it. A new poll shows that 62 percent of Americans believe the monuments should be left alone. Fewer than a third think they should be taken down. African-Americans are split on the issue – with 44 percent thinking the statues should stay and 40 percent saying they should be removed.

Chief White House strategist Steve Bannon said in a magazine interview that he thinks the dispute will win votes for Republicans, saying: “I want them to talk about racism every day. If the Left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”

It’s still too early to say how the controversy will affect the president’s fortunes. But Thursday’s events showed that it’s likely to keep going.