After the violent riots at the Capitol last week, there was a great deal of bipartisan condemnation and calls for accountability.
Democrats are likely to impeach Trump this week, and there are a smattering of Republicans who have said they publicly support the idea, but more Republicans — even some who have condemned the president — have publicly signaled their opposition to impeachment.
The chief reason given has been that impeachment would further divide the country and right now what is required is healing and unity.
For the sake of this piece, let’s take that argument in good faith and at face value.
If it is in the best interests of the country for both sides to come together and heal, unify and try to bring down the temperature, one obvious thing Republican leaders could do to contribute is to correct the record on the president’s baseless election claims.
Republicans should say rather unequivocally — in the spirit of unity and healing — that there is no evidence that there was massive, widespread fraud and that the president was not “robbed.” That even if they believe there were irregularities, the president was completely, 100% wrong when he said that the election was “stolen” from him.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has both publicly and privately made clear he opposes impeachment because it would be divisive. Punchbowl News obtained a letter McCarthy sent to House Republicans Monday. It starts out by saying he opposes impeachment because it “would have the opposite effect of bringing our country together when we need to get America back on a path towards unity and civility.”
During the president’s legal fight — itself an incredibly divisive endeavor based on no evidence — the House Republican leader joined dozens of his colleagues in signing onto the Texas lawsuit that the Supreme Court ultimately smacked down. And last week he voted in favor of objecting to the election results. Whatever McCarthy privately believes about the election results, this may be the time to say something.
Congressman Jim Jordan said this Sunday that Democrats shouldn’t go down the road of impeachment, arguing that it doesn’t help to unify the country to try and remove Trump from office a week before he leaves it.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) January 10, 2021
“Let’s bring the country together and more forward,” Jordan said.
Last week, prior to the Capitol Building going into lockdown, Jordan continued to talk up how people have questions about the election results. He remarked, “Somehow the guy who never left his house wins the election?”
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) January 6, 2021
And then, just today, Jordan was directly confronted on whether he would say outright that Biden legitimately won the election. Jordan acknowledged it is a fact that Biden will be the next president and said, “I’ve never said this election was stolen.”
Right, he just repeatedly questioned whether people should trust the process and said millions of people believe it was stolen.
Over 50 million Americans think this election was stolen.
That’s more than one third of the electorate.
For that reason alone, we owe it to the country to investigate election integrity.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) December 4, 2020
Ted Cruz, in his statement denouncing the horrific violence at the Capitol, said, “We must come together and put this anger and division behind us. We must stand side-by-side as Americans. We must continue to defend our Constitution and the rule of law.”
The next paragraph reads, “That’s why my colleagues and I called for an electoral commission to give Americans confidence in this past election and in elections going forward. Millions of Americans who have peacefully expressed their deep concerns regarding election integrity deserve to have their voices heard. It was the right thing to do.”
The attack at the Capitol was a despicable act of terrorism and a shocking assault on our democratic system. We must come together and put this anger and division behind us. We must, and I am confident we will, have a peaceful and orderly transition of power. My full statement: pic.twitter.com/84HHQdpMZd
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) January 7, 2021
And lastly, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, according to the Washington Post, said, “After the abhorrent violence we saw last week, our country desperately needs to heal and unify. I have concerns that impeachment proceedings will only divide us further.”
Last month McDaniel wrote an op-ed for Fox News defending questioning election results in several states and saying the Democrats are “doing the American people a great disservice… by keeping them in the dark about voting irregularities that need to be explored, investigated and eventually resolved.”
Ignoring voting irregularities is irresponsible.
States and the courts have a duty to ensure the election was conducted properly.
The Democrat double standard on this issue is telling.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) December 6, 2020
McDaniel even said in her op-ed, “The difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans are trying to resolve these issues in a peaceful manner, not by creating mayhem.”
And this isn’t just limited to elected Republicans. On Wednesday night, Fox News host Sean Hannity repeatedly condemned the riots before saying, “The people who acted violently today, they don’t represent the millions of law-abiding, hard-working, tax-paying citizens, responsible American patriots that are worried about election integrity.”
The president of the United States had every legal right to contest results, which he did. His lawyers and other allies went to court time and time again. Even judges appointed by the president rejected their cases. They supported two separate cases that the Supreme Court smacked down. For a time, they took Sidney Powell seriously before having to distance themselves from her. Twice.
Their efforts failed. But the president continued to baselessly claim the election was stolen from him and that he was the rightful winner with “legal” votes. He even irresponsibly stoked up anger of a stolen election and even put the onus on Vice President Mike Pence to save his presidency. His attacks on Pence were ridiculous because he was just flat-out wrong on what the vice president could do on January 6. But given what we’ve seen about the intent of some of the protesters, they were also incredibly dangerous.
Newly-elected Republican congressman Peter Meijer — who has been very outspoken in calling out the president’s actions and rhetoric — revealed in an op-ed this past weekend that there was one colleague who joined in on the effort to overturn the election, not because they actually supported it, but because they feared threats against themselves and their family.
According to a GOP source on conference phone call yesterday, Kevin McCarthy warned members not to verbally attack colleagues who vote for impeachment because it could endanger their lives.
— John McCormack (@McCormackJohn) January 12, 2021
The videos and images we have seen from the Capitol have been absolutely horrific. And there’s no ambiguity what the purpose was here or whose rhetoric set all this off.
Whether or not Trump actually believes the election was stolen (for all we know this could be a con) is, at this point, irrelevant. The damage has been done.
The man himself could easily diffuse this thing right now, seeing as how he too believes impeachment is “causing tremendous anger.” You know what else caused tremendous anger? Baselessly claiming that the election was stolen from you. The video he made during the storming of the Capitol telling people to go home started with him saying the election was stolen.
There is no evidence the election was stolen. Republicans need to say so. Pro-Trump Fox News hosts need to say so. And in a parallel dimension where Donald Trump understands the consequences of his actions, he needs to say so too.
In the spirit of unity and healing.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.