House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Wednesday expressed opposition to the Democrats’ second impeachment effort against President Trump but, while condemning the “undemocratic, un-American, and criminal” protest that occurred at the U.S. Capitol, assessed that Trump “bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters.”
During Wednesday’s House debate on impeachment, McCarthy condemned the unruly protest that occurred at the U.S. Capitol last week as Congress convened to certify the electoral votes, noting that “violence is never a legitimate form of protest.” The freedom of speech and assembly under the Constitution, he noted, is “rooted in nonviolence.”
Democrats have overwhelmingly argued that Trump effectively organized and incited the chaos that descended upon the Capitol last week, and McCarthy — while calling impeachment a “mistake” — said that Trump “bears responsibility” for Wednesday’s happenings.
“Here is what a vote to impeach would do. A vote to impeach would further divide this nation. A vote to impeach would further fan the flames of partisan division. Most Americans want neither inaction nor retribution. They want durable, bipartisan justice,” McCarthy said, explaining that the path is “still available.”
“That doesn’t mean the president is free from fault. The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” the California Republican said.
“He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action of President Trump — accept his share of responsibility, quell the brewing unrest, and ensure President-elect Biden is able to successfully begin his term,” he said.
McCarthy said such actions also warrant congressional moves, including a “fact-finding commission” and “censure resolution,” calling them “prudent.”
Earlier in his speech, McCarthy also addressed the rumblings of Antifa’s involvement in the riots.
“Some say the riots were caused by Antifa. There is absolutely no evidence of that. And conservatives should be the first to say so,” he said.
“Conservatives also know that the only thing that stops mob violence is to meet it with force rooted in justice and backed by moral courage,” he added, thanking law enforcement for their sacrifice and heroism.
Those who are responsible for Wednesday’s chaos, he promised, “will be brought to justice.”
McCarthy also noted that the Senate confirmed that no trial would even begin until President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into office — another reason he disagrees with moving forward with impeachment.
“We must work together, all of us, to recharge our light of our shining city on a hill,” he concluded, calling for unity moving forward.
McCarthy’s remarks, particularly that Trump bears responsibility for the lawlessness, follows the minority leader telling House Republicans earlier this week that Trump “told him he bears some of the responsibility for the Washington, DC riots,” as Breitbart News reported.
Not once on Wednesday, nor in the days leading up to the “Save America” rally, did Trump encourage supporters to engage in lawless attacks. He repeatedly called for peace on social media as the events unfolded, writing shortly after 2:30 p.m. Eastern, “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”
Shortly before 3:15 p.m. Eastern, he added, “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”
Trump released a statement on Wednesday, urging Americans to refrain from violence and lawbreaking.
“In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind,” he said in part.
“That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers. Thank You,” the president added.