With the political thunderheads darkening more and more over the Capitol as words like “subpoena,” “contempt” and “impeachment” spin through the national conversation with new velocity, the partisan divide among lawmakers is getting uglier.
Even the usually soporific daily business on the House floor has been infected with new animus in the post-Mueller report Washington — a point underscored during a testy exchange between a Democratic congresswoman and a Republican colleague this week.
On Tuesday, Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio) addressed the House during the body’s “morning hour,” a period each Monday and Tuesday when members can deliver five-minute speeches on any topic. The Cleveland-area native has long called for impeaching President Trump, and a growing number of Democrats, including 2020 presidential hopefuls, have begun to echo Fudge following the release of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
During Tuesday’s session, Fudge reemphasized her position against the president by reading a letter from a constituent that blasted Trump and accused his supporters of being stupid and racist.
In a video shared by C-SPAN, Fudge announced that the letter was sent to her from the Rev. Ronald S. Williams, senior pastor and chief executive of Mount Zion Fellowship in Highland Hills, Ohio.
“ ‘A mobster? A con man? A gangster in the White House? I think so,’ ” Fudge read. The letter then went through a rundown of Trump’s behavior before turning attention to his followers.
“ ‘It is glaringly apparent that many who support the president’s administration are either racists, steeped in religious beliefs, ignorant, or as my mother used to say, just plain dumb,’ " Fudge read. “ ‘I believe the crooked ascension of Trump to the Oval Office is a gauge that measures the declining patriotic and moral values of the many citizens of America.’ ”
Fudge continued reading Williams’s letter, which compared the GOP to a “cult.”
“ ‘My growing concern is that the Congress and Senate of the United States have more of a personal interest for themselves rather than a patriotic duty to the people they represent,’ ” she read. “ ‘The Republicans appear to have become a Trump cult, and the Democrats refuse to move against this man in a collected, decisive way.’ ”
Fudge finished her letter and left the microphone. But other members, including a Democrat, did not take her broadside well.
"Remarks and debate may not engage in personalities toward the president, including by repeating remarks made elsewhere that would be improper if spoken in the member’s own words,” said Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Tex.), who was then presiding over the House.
“What is a ‘personality?’ ” Fudge retorted.
In the meantime, Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) had approached the microphone for his turn.
"Are we in order here, or what are we doing?” Bucshon said to Fudge, before adding, “You’re out of order.”
“And so are you,” Fudge replied before leaving.
Jane Timken, the chair of the Republican Party in Fudge’s home state of Ohio, was quick to blast the congresswoman’s decision to read the letter from the floor.
“I hope that this was a lapse in judgment from Rep. Fudge,” Timken said in a statement, according to Cleveland.com.
“This kind of language serves only to divide not unite — her constituents deserve more. But this goes to show that Democrats care more about playing identity politics than they do about winning back blue-dog Democrats who overwhelmingly supported the president.”
Fudge’s push for impeachment goes back to the first year of the Trump presidency. In November 2017, the Democrat joined a small group of representatives questioning the president’s actions to subvert the Mueller probe.
“In the nearly 300 days since he was sworn in, it has become evident that President Trump is a clear and present danger to our democracy,” Fudge said at the time, Cleveland.com reported. “It is high time that Congress take a serious look at the president’s actions.”