OMAHA — Republican House members who represent Nebraska largely echo their GOP counterparts in opposing the impeachment of President Donald Trump following a mob attack on the Capitol last week.
Reps. Don Bacon, Jeff Fortenberry and Adrian Smith cited the timing. They argue there’s little value in impeaching Trump with President-elect Joe Biden taking office Jan. 20.
House Democrats have argued impeachment could set a precedent against inciting a mob by making false claims about a free and fair election Trump lost. Some also argue that impeaching Trump, even after he’s left office, could ban him from holding future federal office.
Bacon said Monday he’s unlikely to support impeachment because he fears it would further inflame tensions.
He said he’s “wrestling with himself” about whether Trump’s actions were impeachable offenses, saying they were clearly “wrong.”
Bacon said he holds the president responsible for refusing to concede, organizing a rally on the day Congress was to tally Electoral College votes and telling his supporters to never surrender.
“With nine days to go, it’s moot. But what he did was not the American way,” Bacon said.
Fortenberry asked in a tweet whether seeking political retribution would calm violence and division in the country.
“We can keep canceling one another, hurting one another, hating one another, or we can stop,” he tweeted.
Will seeking political retribution calm the violence and division in our nation? We can keep canceling one another, hurting one another, hating one another, or we can stop. The flag is still flying over the Capitol.— Jeff Fortenberry (@JeffFortenberry) January 11, 2021
Smith, the lone member of the delegation to formally object to the Electoral College results, said in a statement that Biden will take the oath of office in a little more than a week.
“Our goal moving forward should be bringing all those responsible for last week’s riot to justice while bringing our country back together,” he said. “A rush to impeach without hearings or time for appropriate reflection will do neither.”
In an interview last week, Smith condemned the actions of rioters who stormed the Capitol, leaving five people dead.
Nebraska Republican Party Chairman Dan Welch criticized Democrats and the national media for creating “a false pretext for impeachment.” He said “the country is in need of healing.”
Nebraska Democratic Party Chairwoman Jane Kleeb said there can be “no healing” and “no unity” until Republicans take responsibility for their roles in what happened at the Capitol and for deepening the country’s divisions.
She offered as examples campaign ads from Bacon’s and Fortenberry’s House races that labeled Black Lives Matter protesters and Democratic House candidate Kara Eastman as “radical” or “socialist.”
Said Kleeb: “I think Republicans are really grasping because they know how deep of a hole they are in with voters right now.”
Bacon called Kleeb’s attacks hypocritical. He said she was “silent about those who committed violence that plagued many of our major cities since last spring.”
“Nebraskans respect fairness and consistency,” he said.
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