By Gina Martinez
U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) did not hold back against President Donald Trump at a Saturday town hall event at York College in Jamaica.
Meeks called Trump a “con man” and said he would not attend the president’s State of the Union address this past Tuesday because he does not respect him. Meeks and other Democrats were indeed absent from Trump’s address to Congress.
Meeks, hosting a crowded town hall, spoke to attendees about his opposition to Trump’s immigration policy and what he sees as the president’s lack of leadership skills. Attendees shared Meeks’s displeasure with the president, expressing their dissatisfaction whenever they had opportunities to speak.
Meeks started the event by talking about Trump’s recent reference to El Salvador and African nations as “s—hole” countries, denouncing the remark as an attempt to change who we are as Americans. The blame for last month’s government shutdown, Meeks added, rests solely on Trump, who Meeks said put a chain of events in motion when his administration announced last fall that it would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals shield against deportation.
The first question came from a fed-up attendee who asked what could be done about impeachment. Realistically, Meeks said, not much, adding that unless the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation turns up something truly damaging, the focus should be on the midterm elections.
“Impeachment is not likely unless there is a change in the makeup of Congress in the election of 2018,” Meeks said.
He said only a Democratic congress could hold Trump accountable, so 2018 is vitally important.
“My Republican colleagues in particular have forgotten that we are supposed to be a separate but equal branch of government,” he said. “We have a responsibility to protect our Constitution, and they’re not doing that. They’re making all kinds of excuses and protecting him in every way possible, to try to either stop the Mueller investigation or excuse him for any past or present wrongdoing, so realistically we don’t have the votes to impeach him.”
Meeks said he already sees a positive change in terms of increased involvement and conversation. According to Meeks, Trump’s presidency has been a wake-up call. A few weeks ago, he said, in a barber shop, he overheard men in their 20s engaged in conversations not about sports or romance, but, to his surprise, about politics. The young men were talking about Trump and their concerns, and to him, that was a hopeful sign.
“This president happened for a reason,” he said. “There are reasons for everything, My faith encourages me that God is still in charge and that we have been through worse, and he is teaching us a lesson so we do have this kind of response, with everyone getting involved in government and institutions.”
Reach Gina Martinez by email at gmart