Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke has described President Donald J. Trump’s alleged abuse of power “an existential threat to American democracy.”
Clarke, who represents the 9th Congressional District, Thursday night held her first town hall meeting, on Trump’s impeachment inquiry, at the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza.
“In Congress, we have a constitutional obligation to take the information we’ve received and unpack it – to get as many witnesses to share what they know, because I believe there has been a very serious breach of the constitution of the United States by President Trump,” Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants told attendees.
“Donald Trump has abused his power and betrayed his oath office,” she added, stressing that Trump’s “an existential threat” to American democracy and telling the audience that she has been a vocal proponent of impeachment of Trump since 2017, “because the Presidential election was abnormal.”
The town hall meeting also featured former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman, who was a member of the House Judiciary Committee and who voted to impeach President Richard Nixon.
Other constitutional law experts provided insight into what happens during an impeachment inquiry and answered questions about what’s likely to come.
Clarke said she convened the panelists in response to hearing from constituents on the impeachment inquiry process.
Besides Holtzman, panelists included Alfreda Robinson, Esq., Associate Dean of George Washington Law; Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union; and Professor Natalie Gomez-Velez of CUNY (City University of New York) Law School.
“We have a President who is using his power of office to bully another country. This threatens our democracy,” Holtzman said.
“We are going to see every possible distraction here – Hunter Biden, the whistleblower,” she added.
The former congresswoman drew parallels on how both Nixon and Trump have abused their power, specifically stating that both presidents have attempted to stonewall Congress from investigating them.
She said “this in itself is impeachable.”
Nixon quit office before he was officially impeached.
Robinson called the inquiry both political and legal, stressing that it is important, regardless of what it ultimately finds.
“Our democracy requires us to look at this issue [of Trump’s behavior],” she said.
The experts also provided information on how the constitution protects American people from elected officials’ abuse of power.
Lieberman said that free and fair elections are critical in American democracy.
“We are a government of laws – the same set of laws for everyone,” she said. “Nobody is above the law.”
Gomez-Velez said that the roles of the House is to impeach via “trial”, and the Senate is to convict.
She said the impeachment process serves as “checks and balances” for the American people.
Clarke thanked her constituents for their calls, letters and tweets, stating that “enough is enough when it comes to Trump’s abuse of power.”
She demanded that he be held accountable for his actions “with an impeachment.”