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Gillibrand town hall meeting centers on Trump

Mike Desmond

Presidential impeachment dominated a town hall meeting Wednesday at the Buffalo Irish Center, called by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. She is back at home, after being tied up most of this year in her unsuccessful race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The Albany-area Democrat was making her first big appearance here since her presidential campaign failed and she returned to the Senate full time. She is making a series of visits across New York.

Questioners were interested in topics from impeachment and food stamps to ISIS and President Trump stepping away from the Turkey-Syria border. Asked about the president apparently ending support of America's Kurdish allies at the border, Gillibrand blasted allowing the Turkish invasion to crush U.S. allies.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"Take out ISIS and capture terrorists and put them in jail, because of this effort by Trump to unilaterally say we're drawing down our troops," Gillibrand said. "Well, the Kurds now have to defend their families and their communities and they can't guard the prisons where all the ISIS fighters we just put. So they are going to come out into the world and that's really dangerous for us."

There are around 10,000 ISIS fighters in prisons guarded by the Kurds. The Kurds have said they will quit guarding the prison camps if the guards are needed to hold off the Turkish forces.

Gillibrand also went after the president over cuts in mental health research and care.
"President Trump has been cutting research at the NIH since he's been president. He's cutting back mental health research, mental health investments and it's really harming communities," she said. "There's also just not enough provision for communities who need access to mental health providers, whether it's our veterans community or our youth or our college community. Those are places where patients often fall through the cracks."

Gillibrand told the crowd she wants controls on money in Washington politics, saying the root of the gun crisis across the country is the power of the National Rifle Association because of campaign money.

There were many strong supporters of impeachment in the audience. Gillibrand said Trump has broken the law, leading to the current impeachment investigation.

"That is why Speaker Pelosi in light of the newest allegations concerning the Ukraine believe that he has probably violated federal law," she said, "because when you tell a foreign leader, 'I would like you to investigate my political opponent,' that's a violation of the law and he's now admitted it."

If the House impeaches the president, Gillibrand would be one of the senators voting on the charges, potentially throwing the chief executive out of office.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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