Although the name Donald Trump was never mentioned, Hillary Clinton made her opinions clear about what is happening at her former address on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.
“How appropriate that we would talk about a constitutional crisis such as the one we are in, right here at the Constitution Center,” she said.
About 650 people came to the Constitution Center in Philadelphia Monday evening to see Clinton and her daughter Chelsea talk about “The Book of Gutsy Women,” a collection of essays they co-wrote about historic and contemporary women they admire.
One of them is Mary Ritter Beard, a women’s rights activist in the 1920s who supported the passage of the 19th amendment; Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who is right now leading a global movement to take action on climate change; and Claudette Colvin, the African American teenager who, in 1955 Montgomery, Alabama, refused to move to the back of a city bus. Her act predated Rosa Park’s by nine months.
Clinton paid particular attention to Margaret Chase Smith, a senator from Maine who was one of the first Republicans to publically criticize Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist witch hunt for putting “political exploitation above national interest.”
That served as a segue to speak about what Clinton described as the United States’ current “constitutional crisis” — the impeachment inquiry into President Trump over whistleblower allegations he tried to pressure Ukrainian leaders to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democratic campaign rival. Trump’s defense of the allegations, and his public call for China to investigate Biden, have drawn comparisons to when he urged Russia to hack Clinton’s emails during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“The House will have to make a decision as to whether or not there is enough evidence to support articles of impeachment,” Clinton said. “Personally, I think that there is a really good case that there is enough evidence to support articles of impeachment.”
Clinton has a history with impeachment, having worked for the House Judiciary Committee on the Nixon impeachment process in 1974. She later watched her husband, former President Bill Clinton be impeached by the House in 1998 for lying under oath and obstructing justice. She said the main reason the Founding Fathers included impeachment in the constitution was to protect the country from the influence of foreign governments.
Clinton urged Republicans to put country before party.
“Where is anybody from the Republican Party willing to be the Margaret Chase Smith?” she said. “There is one obvious candidate who happens to be a woman Republican senator from Maine who could take on that role, but there are others as well.”
Clinton was referring to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, considered a moderate Republican who has opposed President Trump in the past.
Most of the 50-minute talk, moderated by MSNBC correspondent Joy-Ann Reid, was about the new book she and her daughter published last week.
Chelsea Clinton admitted the process of co-writing a book with her mother was frustrating because Hillary writes in longhand, with pen and paper, making shared, remote editing difficult.
“I kept saying to her, ‘Google Docs are your friends!,’” she said, eliciting a laugh from her mother.
The book’s subjects range from 19th century activists such as suffragette Mary Ritter Beard to contemporary activist like the students who survived the Parkland school shooting and are rallying for stricter gun laws.
“What I feel is really remarkable about the Parkland students is that they have, from the beginning of this horrific tragedy that affected them, understood they are not the only ones that are affected,” said Chelsea Clinton.
Hillary Clinton noted that gun control legislation has been argued for many years, since at least 1993 when her husband Bill Clinton signed the Brady Bill into law, which requires handgun buyers to wait at least five days for a background check. Clinton said she was heartened by the number of younger people taking up the cause, who have not been jaded by a process that can seem futile.
“One of the characteristics of all these women in our book, despite whatever obstacles they face, is optimism,” she said. “They really believe something will change, and they will play a role in seeing that it does.”