Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) warned Democrats on Wednesday they would be accountable for the actions of the “lunatic fringe of their movement” if they impeached President Donald Trump for the Capitol riot after he urged peaceful protest.
McClintock told Breitbart News on Jan. 3, three days before the “Stop the Steal” protest and the riot that followed, that he opposed an effort in Congress to object to the vote of the Electoral College.
Still, he rose to oppose impeachment on the House floor:
You know, I didn’t like the president’s speech on January 6 either. I thought he was wrong to assert that the vice president in Congress can pick and choose which electoral votes to count. He was wrong to set such a confrontational tone in a politically tense situation. But what did he actually say? His exact words were, quote, “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard,” unquote. That’s impeachable? That’s called freedom of speech. Now, he also threatened to oppose candidates in future elections. And by the way, that was directed at Republicans like me, who had resolved to uphold the constitutional process and protect the Electoral College. Well, so what? That’s called politics. If we impeached every politician who gave a fiery speech to a crowd of partisans, this Capitol would be deserted. That’s what the president did; yhat is all he did. He specifically told the crowd to protest peacefully and patriotically. And the vast majority of them did. But every movement has a lunatic fringe. Suppressing free speech is not the answer. Holding rioters accountable for their actions is the answer. And we are. And if we prosecuted BLM [Black Lives Matter] and Antifa rioters across the country with the same determination these last six months, this incident may not have happened at all. Now, short of declaring war, the power of impeachment is the most solemn and consequential act that Congress can take. To use it in this manner, in the heat of the moment, with no hearings, no due process, many members phoning in their votes after a hastily called debate, exactly one week before a new president is to take office, trivializes this power to the point of caricature. The Democrats have won everything in sight. The House, the Senate and the presidency. In a republic, that calls for magnanimity by the victors. Only in a banana republic does it call for vengeance. Benjamin Franklin warned us that passion governs, and she never governs wisely. In our passions this week, we’ve set some dangerous new precedents that will haunt us for years to come. Yesterday, we redefined intemperate speech as a physical incapacity requiring removal from office. Today, we define it as a high crime and misdemeanor. The moment any member of this body gives an impassioned speech, and a lunatic fringe of their movement takes license from it, be prepared to answer to this new precedent that we established today. Now, I could cite plenty of provocative speeches made by Democrats that directly preceded violence this summer. But we’ve already had enough of that. You know, after 600,000 Americans had perished in the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln appealed to the better angels of our nature. He said, “With malice toward none, with charity for all … let us bind up the nation’s wounds.” Those words were so important to the unity of our nation, they’re inscribed in marble at the Lincoln Memorial. I cannot think of a more petty, vindictive and gratuitous act than to impeach an already-defeated president a week before he is to leave office. President-elect Biden’s promise to heal the nation becomes a hollow mockery in the harsh reality of this unconstitutional act. God help our country.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told the House that the president was responsible for what happened, impeachment would divide the country rather than allowing the new administration to unite it.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is How Not to Be a Sh!thole Country: Lessons from South Africa. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.