More than a dozen progressive activists stormed Sen. Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) office on Thursday morning, demanding he drop "Trump-apologist" Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) from the Democratic party leadership team.
Manchin, who has voted to confirm several of President Donald Trump's controversial cabinet nominees (including Attorney General Jeff Sessions), serves as vice chairman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.
But progressive leaders like CREDO senior campaign manager Heidi Hess say the West Virginia senator is "a phony Democrat who often votes or acts in conflict with the core values of the Democratic party."
"Manchin has failed time and time again to fight back against Trump's racist, sexist, and xenophobic agenda," Hess said Wednesday, upon delivery of 225,000 petition signatures to Schumer's Washington, D.C., office. "His willingness to collaborate with Trump makes him unqualified for Democratic leadership."
Other members of the petition-delivery team pointed to Manchin's "warm embrace" of Trump's Tuesday night address to Congress, as well as his hour-long, off-the-record meeting with the Breitbart News editorial team on Monday, as evidence that Manchin is "a tool of Donald Trump and his terrifying agenda for America."
The meeting with Breitbart was reported by Axios as "part of a behind-the-scenes process—kicked off post-election and led by Manchin's communications director Jonathan Kott—to establish warmer relations with the right-wing news outlet."
Senate Minority Leader Schumer, meanwhile, said this week that Trump "has moved so far to the right that I don't see any place we can work with him."
In fact, Schumer said, "If Trump continues to govern from the hard right, and be the same kind of person who doesn't tell the truth, who makes it up as he goes along, and we stay united and strong, we could actually take back the Senate."
But "[i]f Schumer wants to show that he's with the resistance, he needs to remove Senator Joe Manchin, a man who proudly gives Trump standing ovations, buddies up with Breitbart News, and votes for the Republican party's agenda of hate and corporate cronyism, from party leadership," said Yong Jung Cho, co-founder of #AllofUs, which recently launched WeWillReplaceYou.org—a PAC created to oust Democrats who won't fight Trump.
"We fundamentally reject the assumption that Democrats can only win in red states by pandering to racists and big bankers," said Claire Sandberg, another co-founder of the group, to The Hill this week. "The way we beat Trumpism and take back Congress and statehouses is offering a coherent vision of our own to put people back to work... We don't need to completely compromise our own values and principles."
Yet by elevating Manchin within the Democratic party, that's just what the left is doing, said Democracy for America executive director Charles Chamberlain on Wednesday. "The idea that Manchin is considered a Senate Democratic leader is both morally disturbing and politically toxic for a Democratic party with millions in the street demanding its members stand united in opposing Trump's hateful and corrupt agenda," he declared.
Photos and videos of Wednesday morning's action were posted under the hashtag #DropManchin: