US House votes to condemn Trump’s ‘racist comments’

Four US congresswomen of color were recently the target of US President Donald Trump’s comments about immigration. (File/AFP)
Updated 17 July 2019

US House votes to condemn Trump’s ‘racist comments’

  • Trump has a long history of pandering to white suspicions about other ethnic groups
  • Trump’s repeated attacks appear to be aimed at galvanizing his mostly white electoral base ahead of the 2020 presidential vote

WASHINGTON: The US House of Representatives formally condemned Donald Trump on Tuesday for xenophobic attacks on four minority Democratic lawmakers and hostile language targeting immigrants, as the president denied accusations of racism.
Top Republican leaders rallied around Trump, but four members of the president’s party voted with the 235 Democrats to condemn him for “racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.”
One independent lawmaker also supported the measure, which takes aim at Trump’s weekend tweets telling a group of progressive Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back” to other countries.
The resolution also takes the president to task for “referring to immigrants and asylum seekers as ‘invaders.’“
Trump has a long history of pandering to white suspicions about other ethnic groups, and the resolution criticizes him for “saying that Members of Congress who are immigrants (or those of our colleagues who are wrongly assumed to be immigrants) do not belong in Congress or in the United States of America.”
Democrats hold a majority in the 435-member House but are outnumbered by Republicans in the Senate, where the resolution is unlikely to be considered.
The four congresswomen — all but one of whom were born in the US — are of Hispanic, Arab, Somali and African-American descent.
Trump has stuck by the provocative comments.
“Our Country is Free, Beautiful and Very Successful. If you hate our Country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave!” the president tweeted Tuesday.
Democratic leaders denounced Trump’s remarks, and rallied around the lawmakers — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley.
Omar is the only one born outside the United States.
Slamming the “so-called vote” as a “Democrat con game,” Trump urged Republicans not to “show ‘weakness’ and fall into their trap.”
“Those Tweets were NOT Racist. I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!” Trump said.
“This should be a vote on the filthy language, statements and lies told by the Democrat Congresswomen, who I truly believe, based on their actions, hate our Country,” he wrote.
“Nancy Pelosi tried to push them away, but now they are forever wedded to the Democrat Party,” Trump added, in a jab at the House speaker who has had a tenuous relationship with the four left-leaning first-term congresswomen.
Speaking on the House floor prior to the vote, Pelosi said: “Every single member of this institution, Democratic and Republican, should join us in condemning the president’s racist tweets.”
“To do anything less would be a shocking rejection of our values and a shameful abdication of our oath of office to protect the American people.”
“I know racism when I see it. I know racism when I feel it. And at the highest level of government, there’s no room for racism,” Representative John Lewis, an American civil rights icon, said in remarks on the House floor.
Trump’s repeated attacks appear to be aimed at galvanizing his mostly white electoral base ahead of the 2020 presidential vote.
“See you in 2020!” said Trump, who before becoming president pushed the racist “birther” conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in the United States.
Ocasio-Cortez dismissed Trump’s denial that he is a racist.
“You’re right, Mr. President — you don’t have a racist bone in your body,” she tweeted. “You have a racist mind in your head, and a racist heart in your chest.”
She also took aim at Republican lawmakers who voted against the resolution, telling CBS News that “they could not bring themselves to have the basic human decency to vote against the statement that the president made.”
Trump meanwhile took to Twitter on Tuesday night to hail “how unified the Republican Party was on today’s vote.”
While some Republican members of Congress have condemned Trump’s remarks, House Republican leaders closed ranks behind the president.
“This is all about politics,” said House Republican minority leader Representative Kevin McCarthy of California.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republican majority in the Senate, said “the president is not a racist.”
Immediately after the House vote a Democratic congressman, Al Green of Texas, filed articles of impeachment against Trump.
Dozens of other Democratic members of the House have reportedly called for an impeachment inquiry to be opened against the president but Pelosi has said she does not favor such a move at the moment.


Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

Updated 21 January 2020

Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

  • Ex-president says Taliban offer to reduce violence a ‘major development’

KABUL: Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged President Ashraf Ghani to drop the pre-condition of cease-fire to begin talks with the Taliban amid high hope that the US and Taliban delegates will sign a deal following more than a year of secret discussions.

Speaking in an interview with BBC local service, Karzai said the government “should not block intra-Afghan dialogue under the pretext of cease-fire.” He said the Taliban offer for reduction in violence as the group says is nearing to ink the deal with American diplomats in Qatar, was a “major development.”

He said Ghani needed to accept the Taliban offer.

Ghani says truce is a must ahead of starting any negotiations with the Taliban calling reduction in violence a general term and arguing that such a call by the Taliban political leaders in Qatar only goes to show that they have control over field commanders back in Afghanistan.

The Taliban say the group will announce truce when the intra-Afghan dialogue begins which will happen after Washington sets timetable for withdrawal of the troops.

Washington at least on one occasion called off the talks with the Taliban in Qatar due to Taliban attacks back in Afghanistan as discussions continued in Qatar despite none of the warring sides having committed to halt offensives during the talks.

Ghani’s government has been sidelined from all rounds of talks between the Taliban delegates and US diplomats led by Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar. There has also been rift between Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who shares power with the president in the National Unity Government, on the pre-condition of cease-fire.

Unlike Ghani, Abdullah is happy with reduction of violence. Talking in a meeting of council of ministers, Abdullah on Monday indirectly said Ghani had taken the peace process in his monopoly.

 “Peace is not one person’s monopoly, one person’s wish — but it is a collective desire, and the people of Afghanistan have the right to take a position regarding the peace process,” said Abdullah.