December 21, 2020

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries draws inspiration from both the Bible and Biggie Smalls. Can he unite Democrats' warring factions?

WASHINGTON – New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries didn’t think twice about using rap lyrics to argue why President Donald Trump should be removed from office earlier this year.

Standing in front of the Senate’s marble rostrum in January as one of the House Democrats’ impeachment managers, Jeffries felt “reasonably confident that if the spirit moved me, it was the right thing to do.”

After Trump’s lead attorney questioned why the trial was taking place, Jeffries succinctly summed up the case in his usual steady, deliberative manner before adding: “And if you don’t know, now you know.” Jeffries heard an audible reaction from the back of the Senate but didn’t know if it was positive or negative – or just surprise that he had quoted the Notorious B.I.G.

The voice, he found out later, belonged to California Sen. Kamala Harris, who had jumped in to finish Biggie Smalls’ iconic line with Jeffries. “At least one United States senator got the reference,” Jeffries recently told USA TODAY. “That’s a good start.”

Harris, of course, will soon be moving to the White House to serve as President-elect Joe Biden’s No. 2. Biden, who at 78 will be sworn in as the oldest president in the nation’s history, has called himself “a bridge” to the next generation of Democrats. His choice of Harris, 56, as his running mate was a recognition of the energy in the party coming from a younger, more diverse cohort.


USA Today