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Column: Congressman Tom Reed
I Want Trump to Face Justice. But the House Shouldn’t Impeach Him.
WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 11, 2021 -- Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning) wrote the following op-ed Monday for the New York Times, arguing why Congress should consider other options, as opposed to impeachment, to hold President Donald Trump accountable for his role leading to the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6.
It reads as follows:
We will never forget the events of Jan. 6. Our democratic institutions were assaulted. Lives were lost. The very foundations of our nation were shaken ─ but not broken.
All responsible parties, including President Trump, must face justice.
Yet, the manner in which President Trump and others are held accountable is a difficult question that demands more scrutiny.
If our leaders make the wrong decision in how to hold him accountable, it could damage the integrity of our system of justice, further fan the flames of division, and disillusion millions of Americans ─ all while failing to accomplish anything.
Given the tools that lie before Congress, it is clear that pursuing impeachment only days before President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated is not the answer.
Most important, there is inadequate time to reasonably investigate, present and debate articles of impeachment. Rushing through the substantive and procedural requirements for such a monumental action will directly diminish the validity of impeachment. We cannot rush to judgment simply because we want retribution or, worse, because we want to achieve a particular political outcome.
These aren’t minor concerns. A hasty impeachment could raise a host of consequences that could have a striking impact on the long-term stability of our country. The House’s article of impeachment specifies that it is for “Incitement of Insurrection.” But while the president’s words were unwise, intemperate and wrong, they may not qualify as incitement. And an impeachment on the grounds that they do will inevitably erode the norms around what may be considered constitutionally protected speech.
Additionally, a snap impeachment will undoubtedly fuel the divisions between our citizens at a time when the wounds of Jan. 6 are still raw. With the start of a new administration and a new Congress, there is a real opportunity to build bridges and unite the American people around our shared values.
Failing to do so will undermine our efforts to bring people together. It may even provide excuses and delusional incentives for those who would incite further violence. Impeachment will also consume Congress long after Mr. Trump has left office, inhibiting Congress’s ability to tackle the Covid-19 crisis, reignite our economy and other pressing issues.
Finally, a too-quick impeachment will not suddenly change the minds of millions of Americans who still do not recognize the election of President-elect Biden as legitimate. In fact, rushed proceedings will be seen as validating the view that impeachment is part of a multiyear campaign to delegitimize Mr. Trump’s 2016 election.
We cannot give credibility to the belief that Washington chooses to hold people accountable only for mere political advantage, especially to the detriment of the Constitution.
I implore our congressional leaders and Mr. Biden to take a moment to consider what is at stake. Work with us on constitutionally viable alternatives to ensure that no individual is above the law.
Such options include censure, criminal proceedings and actions under the 14th Amendment, after a complete and thorough investigation into the events leading up to the assault on the Capitol. I intend to join with my House colleagues in the introduction of a censure resolution Tuesday to ensure accountability occurs without delay for the events of Jan. 6. We must also look at alternatives that could allow Congress to bar Mr. Trump from holding federal office in the future.
I acknowledged Joe Biden as president-elect on Nov. 7. I spoke out against the Texas lawsuit against other states’ election processes and voted to certify the results of the presidential election. I have supported the president on many issues, but I have no interest in stopping justice from being served.
But make no mistake, our Constitution is the bedrock of our great nation. Impeachment now, days before Mr. Trump’s term ends, would be a grave error, diluting the meaning of that important constitutional provision forever. We cannot and should not support a rushed, divisive action simply because the emotions of the moment demand it. That is not the American way.
Photo in text: Congressman Tom Reed (File photo)
Schuyler County Officials
Top row (from left): Carl Blowers, Jim Howell, Michael
Lausell, Van Harp
Bottom row: Gary Gray, David Reed, Phil Barnes, Mark Rondinaro
Carl Blowers, 535-6174 or 237-5469
Gary Gray, 292-9922
Van Harp, 329-2160
Jim Howell, 535-7266 or 227-1141
David M. Reed, 796-9558
Michael Lausell, 227- 9226
Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen, 481-0482
Mark Rondinaro, 398-0648
County Clerk: Theresa Philbin, 535-8133
Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222
Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222
County Treasurer: Holley Sokolowski, 535-8181
District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383
State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County
Sen. Charles E.
United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address: http://schumer.senate.gov/webform.html
United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451
State Senator Tom O'Mara
-- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca
(Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)
Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976
Assemblyman Phil Palmesano--
Steuben, Schuyler, Yates
Room 723, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-5791