Bankole: Lawrence censure remarks give GOP an opening
Either Detroit Rep. Brenda Lawrence lacks the sophistication to understand the weight of her comments as a member of the most powerful legislative body in the world, or she simply fails to grasp the gravity of the situation facing our nation.
In a recent podcast interview with journalist Charlie LeDuff regarding President Donald Trump’s impeachment, Lawrence changed her mind from pushing for impeachment of Trump to suggesting that he should be censured:
“I want him censured. I want it on record that the House of Representatives did their job,” Lawrence said in the podcast.
The interview received national attention, including an article in the National Review, and Lawrence received backlash from some of her district members who pressured her to try to retract her comments.
In a subsequent interview on 910 AM with host and political veteran Sam Riddle, Lawrence dug herself a deeper hole, saying the GOP leadership should at least censure Trump.
The question was never about whether Lawrence would vote to impeach Trump. The larger issue is why would a standing Democratic member of Congress offer censure as a logical alternative to punish a Republican president whose behavior in office is the focus of ongoing explosive congressional impeachment hearings?
Lawrence can’t have her cake and eat it. If she prefers censure, as she made clear in the interview, she should say so publicly. She shouldn’t advise congressional GOP leaders on how they should confront the facts coming out of the hearings. She should let the process play itself out and let the Democratic leaders in the House decide what the next steps should be.
Whether Lawrence is going to vote to impeach is irrelevant right now. Her interview has given an opening for Republicans bent on vindicating Trump from the alleged reports of misconduct to say that Democrats are not united behind an impeachment vote.
Lawrence may have just given Trump, a master manipulator, a great talking point for the 2020 election. I can envision the president’s campaign using Lawrence’s podcast interview with her image in commercials aimed at watering down the Democratic charges against Trump. She’s basically softened the blow against a credible threat of impeachment following solid information regarding the Ukraine scandal.
Also, Lawrence’s unbelievable and unnecessary interview has created an opening for a primary challenge for her congressional seat.
Here's the lesson from this fiasco: A U.S. representative's words carry a lot of significance. Anything you say in an interview or dispatch on a congressional letterhead conveys the authority and legitimacy of Congress.
There was no need for Lawrence to interfere with the impeachment hearings. She's not even a member of the committees conducting them.
If Lawrence truly believes that censure is more appropriate than impeachment, then we should accept and respect it as her position, and she should stand by it.
But she needs a better communications team that is more adept to handle the challenges and complexities of the historic times we live in.
Catch “Redline with Bankole Thompson,” which is broadcast at 11 a.m. weekdays on Superstation 910AM.