WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rich Verma, former U.S. Ambassador to India in the Obama administration, in a scathing indictment of President Donald Trump and his close aides — during and after their recent trip to India last month--laying claim to being the protagonists behind elevating U.S.-India relations to the next level, declared, “It was a rewriting of history.”
Verma, the first ever Indian American to serve as the American envoy to New Delhi in the second term of the Obama administration, who was the keynote speaker at the launch of South Asians for Biden in the Washington, Maryland and Virginia area, held at the Oval Room Corporation’s Penthouse in downtown D.C., Feb. 28, said, “I was shocked to see the delegation,” that accompanied Trump to India, particularly “people that have spent the last three years trying to keep people like all of us, and our parents and our relatives, out of this country. Or to make the lives of people who happen to have a different background, a different religion, different skin tone, much harder — harder not easier.”
He said, “We are at a dangerous time in our democracy…It’s really a dangerous time, and it’s not just because of this past week with the collapse of the stock market and the spread of the (Corona) virus…It’s really an important time for the immigrant community.”
Verma said that it was an outrage to watch the likes of “Stephen Miller taking selfies in front of the Taj Mahal and then talking about how great the trip was and how Trump did it all.”
Miller, a key policy aide to Trump, has driven much of Trump’s draconian immigration policies and there was consternation even among long-term career diplomats in the State Department, when it was announced that the official delegation accompanying Trump would also include Miller, with some who were intrigued to see him included, speculating that Trump may have been taking him along to India as a wedding gift. Miller recently married Katie Waldman, press secretary to Vice President Mike Pence with the wedding taking place at the Trump Hotel in D.C. on Feb. 16 with Trump himself in attendance.
Verma, ripping into Trump and his entourage pushing the visit as a grand success, even though it was heavy on optics and symbolism and light on tangibles — like a much touted trade deal — and substance, said, “That trip was built on the backs of people that came 50, 60 years ago and labored so hard and faced a lot of discrimination and fought every single day to have a better life for their kids.”
“And, they acted as if history started yesterday with their trip and they tarnished and exploited all of what has come before them,” he added.
Verma asserted that “it was an outrage of unprecedented proportions” and warned that “we have to recognize what they were doing. It was a rewriting of history and these people are so dangerous to the American experience, the American dream.”
Verma said Trump’s recent thrashing of the likes of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a Ukranian American, who testified before the House Intelligence Committee about Trump’s conversations with Ukraine’s president, his repeated demands earlier that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whom he called “a Mexican” appointed by Obama(even though Curiel was born in Indiana to Mexican parents who had immigrated to the U.S.), “and the same with President Obama, whom he (Trump) alleged was not born in the United States, and you can go down the list” was to divide the nation by implying that they were all “lesser Americans.”
“That somehow, we are not as American as they are,” he said. “They are trying to define what it means to be Americans,” and reiterated “it is indeed a dangerous time in our democracy.”
Verma also recalled several of his interactions with and inspirational stories of Biden and how hard the former vice president has worked to ensure the American dream is a reality for all, and especially his commitment to veterans.
"Once while flying on an aircraft, we were tired from a long day, I turned around and Joe was in the back of the plane, chatting with an Air Force Master Sergeant, listening to his feedback, and understanding veteran challenges. It went on for three hours. That’s the type of caring leader Joe will be as our President…” he said.
Former Air Force veteran, Retd. Lt. Col. Ravi Chaudhary, the coordinator behind South Asians for Biden, reminiscent of South Asians for Obama, in his welcoming remarks to the dozens of local Democratic leaders and activists who attend the event, said, also spoke of how Biden was instrumental in helping veterans, especially South Asian veterans.
Chaudhary, a former Commissioner on the White House Advisory Council on Asian American and Pacific Islanders(AAPI) in the Obama administration, recalled that “as a member of the President’s AAPI Commission, I’ve had personal experience “of his (Biden’s) support for the accommodation of religious freedom in the U.S. military so that South Asians, especially Sikhs with turbans could serve unabatedly and that wave has now traveled and is continuing and it all traveled with Joe.”
“But I’m telling you, three weeks ago when I saw Lt. Col. Vindman get walked out of the White House and this Purple Heart veteran being treated the way he was, I knew immediately about what I need to do next.”
Chaudhary said, “At that point there was only one fight that we had in the next nine months and that is to get Joe Biden elected and get him back to the White House to make sure that we escort leaders (like Vindman) who were escorted out and escort them back into the White House—leaders who care about our nation, leaders with integrity, leaders who care about healthcare, leaders who believe in truth, leaders who believe in truth, leaders who do not deceive the public.”
He reiterated that this was why it was imperative to make sure Biden was elected because he was a leader “who believes in equity for all and does not care whether you are black, white, brown or about any culture but that you have a place in our government, you have a place in our nation and have a shot to be the best you can be.”
“To be your authentic self and make it. That’s our values, that’s our soul and that’s what we are going to do in November when Joe Biden leads the nation,” he added.
Chaudhary exhorted those in attendance “to go on Facebook, get on your social media and get ready to ante things up and win this thing for our nation and win this thing for the soul of America.”
He argued that contrary to the xenophobia and bigotry of Trump and his aides, “Immigrants make our nation great, and what makes our nation great is not by preventing folks from coming to our nation, but welcoming folks to our nation.”