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Honor Elijah Cummings, Impeach and Remove Donald Trump

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Today, our nation lost a true American hero with the passing of Rep. Elijah Cummings. And in my view, the best way to honor his work and memory is to impeach and remove President Donald Trump.

Cummings, who grew up in Baltimore in the 1950’s and 1960’s, was born to a family of Southern sharecroppers and Baptist preachers.  Even before he reached his teens, Cummings was fighting for racial equality. At 11, he helped integrate a local swimming pool while “being attacked with bottles and rocks.”

Later in life, he would make history as the youngest chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus and the first African American to serve as speaker pro tempore in the Maryland House of Delegates. And in 1996, he was first elected to Congress, since rising to the position of the powerful chair of the House Oversight Committee.

But it was in the time of Trump that Cummings became a clarion call for holding Trump accountable for his corruption and criminality, which in turn made him a target of Trump’s ire.  The events, though, that lead to the inescapable conclusion that the correct way to honor Cummings is to impeach and remove Trump is what happened after Robert Mueller testified on July 24 and the very next day

Shortly after Mueller concluded his testimony where he laid out that Vladimir Putin’s Russia wanted Trump to win in 2016, committed crimes to help Trump, and the Trump campaign on various occasions used Russian stolen data to help during the 2016 campaign, Cummings took to the podium flanked by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and fellow House chairs Reps. Adam Schiff and Jerrold Nadler.

There, the long-time Congressman stated that, “People say that you are just messing with the president because you don’t like him.” Cummings passion then grew as he pushed back on that notion, declaring, “It’s not about not liking the president — it’s about loving democracy, it’s about loving our country. It’s about making a difference for generations yet unborn.”

Cummings then offered a desperate plea to our nation, “I’m begging the American people to pay attention to what is going on. Because if you want to have a democracy intact for your children, and your children’s children, and generations yet unborn we’ve got to guard this moment…this is our watch.”

After that impassioned plea to guard our democracy and to keep it intact for generations to come what did Trump do the very next morning on July 25?! He called the Ukrainian president and solicited his help to interfere in our 2020 election to help his re-election campaign, asking him to investigate his leading Democratic opponent Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, for actions that took place over three years ago. And in that call, Trump repeatedly invoked using our government by way of  Attorney General Bill Barr to help the plan to invite foreign interference, by stating to Ukraine’s President that he was “going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it.”

We’ve also since learned that before that phone call, Trump had personally frozen $391 million in aid to the Ukraine that had been authorized by Congress. This gives more credibility to the view that there as quid pro quo with Trump conditioning aid to the Ukraine based on its leader helping Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.

It was just days after Cummings’ warning — and Trump’s infamous phone call — that Trump went on a tirade against the congressman from Maryland. Trump tweeted that Cummings had possibly stolen federal aid directed to his city of Baltimore, writing, “Why is so much money sent to the Elijah Cummings district when it is considered the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States. No human being would want to live there. Where is all this money going? How much is stolen? Investigate this corrupt mess immediately!”

Cummings responded with the class that he has always shown, tweeting, “Mr. President, I go home to my district daily. Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors. It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents.”

In the days that followed, Trump despicably called Cummings a “racist” and smeared him with more lies on Twitter, such as, “Elijah Cummings has done a terrible job for the people of his district, and of Baltimore itself.”

Trump is despicable. But as Cummings stated on July 24, holding Trump accountable is not predicated upon hating Trump, “it’s about loving our country.”  And as Cummings also warned the very day before Trump picked up the phone and called Ukraine’s president seeking help in 2020 election in violation of U.S. law, if we “want to have a democracy intact” for future generations, it is up to us.

The best way to do just that is for the House to impeach Trump and the Senate to make Trump the first president in the history of our Republic to be removed from office. There’s truly no better way to honor Cummings and our nation.

Dean Obeidallah, a lawyer, hosts SiriusXM radio’s The Dean Obeidallah show and is a columnist for the Daily Beast and a CNN.com Opinion Contributor.