Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) announced late on Wednesday evening that he opposes impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump because the Senate will not be able to hold a fair trial before Trump is out of office and he opposes impeaching a former president.
Cotton’s statement came after he announced last week that he was not going to support an effort by some Republicans to challenge the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
“‘There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.’ Those words are as true today as when Abraham Lincoln spoke them,” Cotton said. “As I said last summer when mob violence gripped our streets, so I say again about the mob violence at our nation’s Capitol last week: those persons responsible should be held accountable in the courts to the full extent of the law.”
“The House has passed an article of impeachment against the president, but the Senate under its rules and precedents cannot start and conclude a fair trial before the president leaves office next week,” he continued. “Under these circumstances, the Senate lacks constitutional authority to conduct impeachment proceedings against a former president. The Founders designed the impeachment process as a way to remove officeholders from public office—not an inquest against private citizens. The Constitution presupposes an office from which an impeached officeholder can be removed.”
“Fidelity to the Constitution must always remain the lodestar for our nation. Last week, I opposed the effort to reject certified electoral votes for the same reason—fidelity to the Constitution—I now oppose impeachment proceedings against a former president,” the statement concluded. “Congress and the executive branch should concentrate entirely for the next week on conducting a safe and orderly transfer of power. After January 20, Congress should get on with the people’s business: improving our vaccination efforts, getting kids back to school, and getting workers back on the job.”
House Democrats rushed to impeach the president after a riot broke out at the U.S. Capitol last week after the president held a political rally for supporters. The House voted on Wednesday to impeach the president with 10 Republicans siding with the Democrats.
“The House of Representatives has voted to impeach the President. The Senate process will now begin at our first regular meeting following receipt of the article from the House,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. “Given the rules, procedures, and Senate precedents that govern presidential impeachment trials, there is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week. The Senate has held three presidential impeachment trials. They have lasted 83 days, 37 days, and 21 days respectively.”
“Even if the Senate process were to begin this week and move promptly, no final verdict would be reached until after President Trump had left office. This is not a decision I am making; it is a fact. The President-elect himself stated last week that his inauguration on January 20 is the ‘quickest’ path for any change in the occupant of the presidency,” McConnell concluded. “In light of this reality, I believe it will best serve our nation if Congress and the executive branch spend the next seven days completely focused on facilitating a safe inauguration and an orderly transfer of power to the incoming Biden Administration. I am grateful to the offices and institutions within the Capitol that are working around the clock, alongside federal and local law enforcement, to prepare for a safe and successful inauguration at the Capitol next Wednesday.”
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