Hill: "This vote is a political exercise that will further inflame tensions"

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Washington, January 13, 2021 | comments

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, Rep French Hill (AR-02) issued the following video statement after voting against one article of impeachment against President Donald Trump.



A transcript of Rep. Hill's message is copied below:

There are but seven days before our nation witnesses the swearing in of our 46th president, Joe Biden.

After the horrific, catastrophic attack on the U.S. Capitol last week by a mob committed to disrupting the work of democracy, our nation is crying out for leadership – leadership that works towards healing our wounds both physical and spiritual.  Yet, a week after the Capitol crisis, instead of leadership, we have more divisive and inherently political brinkmanship.

This includes President Trump claiming no responsibility for the toxic rhetorical environment that is directly related to the attacks of January 6, and Speaker Pelosi’s demanding a snap impeachment without reflection or even the full facts that led to the attack – as well as President-elect Joe Biden’s notable absence of action following his words calling for unity.

I ask: Have we not had enough recrimination and divisive rhetoric?  Fingers pointing and responsibility not being taken? 

For months, our beloved nation, filled with hundreds of millions of inherently good people, has suffered death and economic destruction in the midst of a global pandemic.  But, instead of an effort of unity to focus on those and other critical needs, since the 2016 election, dangerous rhetoric has reverberated – from the pitched poison of the left urging attacks on police and cabinet members and from the right, claiming a stolen 2020 election.

After the final certification of the Electoral College on December 14th, when no reasonable path to victory was evident, President Trump should have welcomed President-Elect Joe Biden to the White House. Likewise, in an attempt to heal and unite, President-Elect Biden should have called the Speaker and said "enough" to her plans for impeachment. And for her part, the Speaker should have followed her better instincts and stopped her caucus short of these twin bad constitutional precedents set, including this snap impeachment, which is where we find ourselves now. 

So, this week, we've taken a vote to impeach the president, an action that will further divide and victimize the American people, desperate to pause this political brinkmanship. Instead, we should be working to find a commonality among us to aid our collective soul of democracy, wounded in the recent attack. 

Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 65 told his 1788 audience: "The prosecution [of impeachments] ... will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused." 

Indeed. 

Just last week I talked about the fundamental importance of the United States Constitution and its requirement that the House and Senate meet and count the properly certified electoral college votes from our states. Today, the Congress is yet again presented with a constitutional question: This time, whether the president's rhetoric in the post-election period is the cause of the illegal and immoral attack on the U.S. Capitol, the seat of American democracy.

We are not presented with an impeachment article on treason or bribery, so we're left with “other high crimes and misdemeanors."

There's no question that the president’s hot rhetoric, prone to exaggeration and self-aggrandizement, has been unattractive and in many ways divisive.  The president in his post-election fiction and folly suggesting a landslide victory and a stolen election, in my view, sullies his four years of economic and national security accomplishments. He casts a shadow over his major initiatives in defeating ISIS, opening a new chapter in Middle Eastern peace with the Abraham Accords, and enhancing economic liberty and religious freedom at home and abroad. And this president’s rhetoric in the days leading up to Wednesday’s attack was unforgivable.

But what needs acknowledgement is that there are implications of Congress’ actions in relation to the fundamental protections afforded by the First Amendment. That the Speaker has set the precedent of offering no alternative short of impeachment – let me repeat that, no alternative short of impeachment -- in response to their past statements should be noted by all leaders across the political spectrum. And, this vote is a political exercise that will further inflame tensions rather than easing them, burdening the peaceful transfer of power rather than celebrating it.

Today, our nation cries for leadership from the current and future White House occupant, as well as from the leaders across the very Capitol that itself was attacked on Wednesday. Each of these critical leaders in our nation's history at this moment would benefit from reflecting on John Jay’s admonition in Federalist 64 where he cautions: "The government must be a weak one indeed, if it should forget that the good of the whole can only be promoted by advancing the good of each of the parts or members which compose the whole."

And so let's go forth seeking unity in purpose by honoring our Constitution, preserving this Republic, and calling on all Americans to advance the good of our nation and thus benefit the whole of our country.

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