U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler took a hard line against President Donald Trump and his nascent administration during a packed town hall meeting on April 13, going so far as to say Trump has fascist tendencies.
Hundreds packed the auditorium at Louis D. Brandeis High School on the Upper West Side for the lively session, which lasted two hours. Standing at a podium in front of a packed auditorium, with members of the audience who couldn’t find a seat standing around the edges of the room, Nadler spoke for about 45 minutes before taking questions from more than a dozen people, the vast majority concerning issues in Washington, D.C., and the Trump presidency.
“We are now approaching the 100-day mark — I was going to say 84th, to be precise — of the new administration,” Nadler said in his opening remarks. “The concerns that many of us share about this administration, and this Congress, have so far been born out. Many of the things that Republicans in Congress are trying to do are, in my opinion, dangerous, immoral and unconstitutional.”
The town hall remained lively throughout, with the audience jeering and booing mentions of Trump or members of his administration and cheering and clapping after Nadler, whose district includes a large swath of west Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, critiqued and even attacked the actions of the new administration’s.
Before taking questions, Nadler spoke about the congressional investigation into Russian state-sponsored interference during the 2016 presidential election. The congressman said Republicans were stonewalling the inquiry and called for an independent investigation similar to the 9/11 Commission.
“We know there is an FBI counterintelligence investigation of the election and an FBI criminal investigation,” Nadler said. “I asked that question, by the way, last September. When [FBI director James] Comey was in front of the judiciary committee, having made his comments about the investigation of Hillary Clinton, I asked if there was an investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.
“His comment then was, ‘I can’t comment about any pending investigation,’ except Hillary’s obviously,” Nadler said.
Nadler fielded questions on health care, whether he would attend specific protests and marches, issues of access for disabled New Yorkers and the best ways to resist the actions of the Trump administration.
One questioner asked if he would commit to calling Trump a fascist and white supremacist, rather than what the questioner asserted were euphemistic terms like “alt-right.”
“I’m not sure of the impact of the word ‘fascist,’” Nadler responded. “To some people, if you say ‘fascist,’ they just tune you out, they don’t listen to what you’re saying.”
When one woman shouted out, “But it’s true,” Nadler said, “Yes, it is true. But that’s not the only question. The goal is not to feel good about yourself because you said the truth. The goal is to stop what’s going on.”
Nadler did add, though, that “Donald Trump is the first major candidate in American politics, in recent decades, that I think really deserves to be called a fascist.”