The top House Republican said on Wednesday that Donald Trump “bears responsibility” for inciting a riot on Capitol Hill, but warned that a hasty impeachment of the president would be inappropriate.
“I think to impeach the president in such a short period of time would be a mistake” because the action “would further divide this nation,” parliamentary minority leader Kevin McCarthy said in a speech an hour before a Bipartisan majority should only impeach Trump an unprecedented second time.
But he admitted that Trump “bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by popular riots.”
He also said Congress should pass a “censure resolution” against the president, a public but largely symbolic condemnation Democrats oppose because it carries no tangible sanction.
Trump’s impeachment would trigger a trial in the U.S. Senate, similar to the one in which he was acquitted a year ago.
But the Senate is on hold until Jan. 19, the day before Democrat Joe Biden’s inauguration, and its Republican Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell will not agree to bring the chamber back to session early in order to remedy to dismissal.
“The Senate has confirmed that no trial will begin until President-elect Biden is sworn in,” McCarthy said.
That would mean the Senate would take the historic step of launching an impeachment trial with the president in question no longer in office.
Republicans have repeatedly stressed that a rushed impeachment process – without hearings, formal witness presentation and little evidence – would open a Pandora’s box by paving the way for opposing parties to launch meteoric impeachment efforts against presidents that they don’t like.
McCarthy was among several lawmakers in his party who backed Trump’s unsuccessful effort to challenge election results in several states over unsubstantiated allegations of massive voter fraud.
But on Wednesday, as six House Republicans publicly declared they would vote for impeachment, McCarthy asserted Biden’s election victory and said he was “ready to help” the new president.
“Let’s be clear: Joe Biden will be sworn in as President of the United States in a week because he won the election,” McCarthy said.
“The eyes of the nation and the world are on us. We must seize this opportunity to heal and become stronger.”
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