Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.) said Wednesday that he opposes the push to impeach President Donald Trump, arguing Trump’s words did not incite protesters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Reschenthaler told colleagues on the House floor in Washington that he’s “deeply troubled” by the Capitol breach and wants those responsible to be “brought to justice.”
But he opposes the impeachment effort, noting just one week remains in Trump’s term. The impeachment, he said, “will no doubt further divide an already fractured nation.”
“I’m also very concerned by the charge against the president of ‘incitement of insurrection.’ At his rally, President Trump urged attendees to ‘peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.’ There was no mention of violence, let alone calls to action,” Reschenthaler said.
The Pennsylvanian said he had prosecuted terrorists while in the U.S. Navy.
“Look at the criminal code. President Trump’s words would not even meet the definition of incitement under criminal statutes,” he said.
The House was debating an article of impeachment on Wednesday. Democrats and a handful of Republicans appeared poised to impeach Trump for a second time, despite staunch pushback from many in the GOP. The resolution says Trump “willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged—and foreseeably resulted in—lawless action at the Capitol.”
The only statement mentioned in the resolution quotes Trump as saying, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Trump during the Jan. 6 speech told supporters that he actually won the election and said election fraud took place in key swing states. He called on supporters to walk down to the Capitol and “cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women.”
Trump told reporters this week that his speech was “totally appropriate.”
While Republicans argued Trump did not incite the crowd, Democrats said he did.
“I rise today to urge the impeachment of Donald Trump because the attack on the Capitol and the Congress was the single most depraved betrayal of the U.S. Constitution ever committed by a president,” Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) said.
“The traitorous incitement of an insurrection demands not just impeachment but removal from office immediately.”