By Gina Martinez
Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) held a town hall meeting Tuesday night at IS 145 in Jackson Heights and discussed the future of the Democratic Party, national security under President Trump and possible impeachment.
Crowley has been openly critical of Trump. He began the meeting by telling the audience that his disdain for Queens native Trump goes beyond politics. He found former Republican President George W. Bush “reprehensible,” but said Trump’s current actions are “unforgivable.” It was a declaration that drew huge applause from town hall attendees.
Crowley said Trump’s actions have constituted a personal attack on his constituents, especially the Muslim travel ban.
Evelyn Frankfurt, a member of the audience, asked Crowley about the future of the Democratic Party. She said it was evident from the presidential election that the party needed new leadership and better messaging. Crowley agreed.
“Messaging is incredibly important, but especially when someone is running for president,” Crowley said. “I think that when the book is written about the last presidential election, they’ll talk about a flawed candidate who did not go to certain states, but the message was good. Moving forward, Democrats need to not only say what we’re against, but what we’re for.”
Crowley said that included jobs and infrastructure, a message that appeals to everyone, and investing in Middle America. Crowley and other Democrats pushed for a bipartisan infrastructure bill that he called “low-hanging fruit” after the election. But the president never acted on it and instead focused on replacing Obamacare.
Another town hall attendee asked Crowley what Democrats can do moving forward to make their voices heard in Washington, which is run by Republicans. She said that although she participated in protests, she still felt powerless and that no one was listening. Crowley asked that Democrats not be discouraged and said the protests have been effective and need to continue.
“I think you underestimate the effects of what has happened in the last few months, especially after the initial march on Washington,” Crowley said. “These protest do have an impact, but you can’t expect change to come quickly. The important thing to do is to resist. Don’t underestimate your voice.”
Crowley said he attended a march against the Muslim ban and was encouraged by the diverse crowd expressing their opinions.
Justin Warner asked Crowley why actions have not been taken to impeach president Trump when the president is a clear national security risk who, as he put it, alienates allies and cozies up to dictators like Vladimir Putin. He said Trump participates in “blatant corruption, and if Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama did 1/1,000th of what Trump has done they would have been impeached immediately.”
Crowley responded he has been outspoken about Russian influence over the 2016 election.
“I have called consistently for a special prosecutor and an independent commission to be established,” he said. “If I say Trump is not a legitimate president, I lose a lot of support, but what I can say is we need to let the facts lead to the truth and an independent prosecutor is the way to go.”
He said he was happy with the selection of Robert Mueller to lead the FBI investigation into Russian ties to the Trump administration and thinks he will do an “incredible” job.
“The president needs to be fully investigated for possible obstruction and I do believe that it’s up to them to figure this out,” Crowley said. “Impeachment does not happen overnight, it takes months and months and months. There is no silver bullet in any of this.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart