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Peter Irons: ‘Trump’s racism is an impeachable offense. The precedent of Andrew Johnson proves it.’

Prof. Peter Irons, in a recent piece on NBCNews.com, argues that Trump’s proven pattern of racism should be the basis for Trump’s impeachment inquiry and draws parallels to the impeachment indictment of President Andrew Johnson as a template.

Irons is professor of political science emeritus at the University of California, San Diego, and the author of “A People’s History of the Supreme Court.” He was the attorney who initiated the coram nobis cases of Gordon Hirabayashi, Minoru Yasui, and Fred Korematsu through his discovery of original documents that proved a fraud on the Supreme Court in 1943 and 1944 cases that were later overturned by teams of lawyers, including Irons.

Given Trump’s lifelong pattern of racist speech and behavior, I think an impeachment inquiry is required by the Constitution, for an obvious (at least to me) reason: By definition, an overtly racist president cannot obey his (or her) constitutional oath to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Presidents are free to oppose and criticize laws passed by Congress, even over their vetoes, but not to frustrate or block their execution for reasons of racial animus.

Irons shares how racism was the basis for President Johnson’s impeachment in 1868:

Johnson’s deep-rooted racism, along with his verbal excoriation of his congressional foes as “treasonous” — something our current president has also done — led to his impeachment in 1868. Article 10 of his impeachment indictment provides a legal basis and historical precedent for making a president’s racist speech an impeachable offense, by itself, as evidence of unfitness to hold the highest and most powerful office in the land.

Article 10 provides this basis by making clear that speaking contemptuously about Congress and its members, with “intemperate” and “inflammatory” attacks based on racial animus — as both Johnson and Trump did on multiple occasions — brings the presidency into “contempt, ridicule and disgrace.”

The House of Representatives would have a more solid and easily provable case for Trump’s impeachment if it immediately opened proceedings along these lines rather than continue to weigh the more complicated and legally fraught obstruction issue.

Read the full piece here.

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CAPA21

Let Us Not Be Silent

The President’s “go back to your own country” tweets bring back bad memories of the racist schoolyard taunts that we grew up with. That these remarks are coming not from a schoolyard bully, but from the Office of the President, marks an enormously distressing shift in the culture intended to redefine what it is to be an “American.”

That directive is an insult meant to demean and delegitimize our presence in this country and perpetuates the “perpetual foreigner” stereotype about our race. It arises from a white supremacist sense of privilege and ownership. And it is deeply hurtful.

We belong here. We helped build this country and, despite the century of discrimination and racism we have encountered, we are not going away.

Let it be remembered that when 120,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were American citizens, were incarcerated in internment camps by their own country, the United States of America, it was done by labeling them as “enemy aliens.” Let’s also remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:  “… In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Let’s not be silent.

~ Glen S. Fukushima (Chair), Dale Minami (President), Donald K. Tamaki

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Rep. Jackie Speier Reintroduces Bill to Restore Filipino Vets’ Benefits

Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California and 22 congressional colleagues today introduced H.R. 2823, the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2019.

When the U.S. came under attack in World War II, 250,000 brave Filipinos volunteered to fight alongside U.S. forces. As American nationals, they were promised all the benefits afforded to U.S. troops. Yet in 1946 Congress inexplicably stripped these benefits from our brave Filipino veterans, overturning President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s commitment.

The Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2019 addresses that injustice by giving widows and children of Filipino veterans the same eligibility for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation provided to the families of all other veterans. It would also direct the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to take into account alternative military documentation when determining eligibility, removing a significant hurdle that has kept many deserving dependents from receiving their rightful benefits.

“Congress committed a historic transgression when it reneged on promises made to Filipino veterans who fought valiantly with the United States in WWII,” Rep. Speier said. “This bill would right that wrong and fulfill our commitment to these heroes and their families. The United States has always benefitted from the strength of our allies and coalitions. If we don’t take care of our partners, we may find ourselves alone in the future.”

Though some Filipino veterans received lump sum payments as part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, missing official records have hampered the ability of thousands more retirees to receive benefits. The Act would allow veterans to qualify by instead presenting alternative military documentation.

“We must go beyond the Recovery Act payments to ensure all Filipino veterans receive owed benefits for their service to our nation,” Rep. Speier said. “Time is running out to act for these veterans and their loved ones. As of 2017, their average age was 90 and fewer than 15,000 were still alive. The passage of time has only made this situation more dire.”