California could become the first state to support the U.S. Congress’ efforts to censure President Donald Trump, after Assemblymember Tony Thurmond introduced a resolution in the State Assembly.
The resolution from Thurmond, D-Richmond, would support the censure of Trump over his response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, according to his press release. Ayodeji Taylor, Thurmond’s communications director, added that the resolution was motivated by Trump’s failure to condemn white supremacist groups. The measure, HR 57, would urge the U.S. Congress to continue current efforts to censure Trump and encourage other states to offer their support as well.
“In his short time as President, President Trump has shown that he is morally corrupt,” Taylor said in an email. “The leader of the free world should have no tolerance for racism and bigotry. For California and the rest of the nation President Trump has to understand that even as President his words have consequences.”
Though a censure is only a formal statement of condemnation, many supporters of Thurmond’s resolution, including Oakland City Councilmember Dan Kalb, a candidate for Thurmond’s seat in the 2018 election, agree that it would serve as a “forceful and symbolic action.”
“This is beyond the the realm of legitimate policy debates,” Kalb said. “As any president of the United States, when you step over that line, the Congress and the entire country need to push back and a formal congressional censure is one way to do that.”
The U.S. Senate has censured a president only once before, in 1834 after Andrew Jackson withheld a document demanded by the Senate.
In June, Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, and Rep. Brad Sherman, D-California, announced in a press conference their intent to initiate efforts to impeach Trump.
While Owen Poindexter, a writer and candidate for Thurmond’s seat, said he supports a censure and its symbolic importance, he contended that real change will come in the form of winning elections and using leverage where it is accessible.
A number of supporters of Thurmond’s resolution said if the California State Assembly were to pass the resolution, it could encourage other states to follow suit and place more pressure on Congress to follow through with a censure.
Some, however, remain skeptical of the plausibility of a censure with a Republican majority in Congress.
“I think the (Republicans) in Congress need to put their politics aside and stand up for what they believe in,” Buffy Wicks, a candidate for Thurmond’s seat and former adviser to former president Barack Obama, said. “The Republicans who continue to allow for President Trump to embrace such a racist ideology are just as bad as him in that regard.”
But Judy Appel, Berkeley Unified School District board member and CA-15 district state assembly candidate, said she believes that censure is likely, and California could serve an important role in that process.
“I think California has to continue to be a beacon of progressive leadership for the country and we have to be a loud voice speaking against all the oppressive and repressive policies and initiatives coming out of D.C.,” Appel said. “I think there’s a real possibility of censure, there’s increasing evidence of multiple missteps … but we have to be bold and we can’t be bullied.”