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Tillis’ statement on former President Trump’s impeachment trial

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) issued the following statement:

“My vote was based on two fundamental issues with the impeachment process. The first being the decision to hold a trial for a private citizen, and the second being the charge itself.

“There are valid questions whether it is constitutional for Congress to put a private citizen on trial. And even if it is constitutionally permissible, it isn’t prudent in the absence of a thorough impeachment inquiry. The House managers argued impeachment was necessary to bar former President Trump from running for president again. Their rationale is not rooted in any consistent, objective standard and collapses on itself: what accountability would a trial provide to a second-term president who commits impeachable offenses in their final days in office when they are already constitutionally barred from seeking another term? I have faith in the American people to determine whether former President Trump disqualified himself from seeking the presidency in the future.

“An impeachment trial is not the best or only way to hold a former elected official accountable for their actions. The ultimate accountability is through our criminal justice system where political passions are checked and due process is constitutionally mandated. No president is above the law or immune from criminal prosecution, and that includes former President Trump.

“Casting aside the question of whether it was wise or constitutional to hold the trial, there were also significant issues with the case made by House Democrats.

“During their impeachment inquiry, the House declined to interview a single witness and conduct a formal and thorough investigation. The impeachment power should be used sparingly and only after careful and deliberate consideration, regardless of whether the individual is still in elected office. In their haste to impeach, they completely bypassed all due process for the first time in our nation’s history— including no representation of defense counsel in House proceedings, limited sharing of validating evidence, and only calling for witnesses after they already rested their case before the Senate.

“The next presidential election is four years away. The House has plenty of time to follow due process to attempt to build a credible case if the goal is to disqualify President Trump from running for office again.

“The charge of incitement of an insurrection, which is a subjective standard where one elected official’s ‘passionate and fiery speech’ is another’s ‘incitement of violence,’ especially in an age where politicians on both sides of the aisle have repeatedly used overcharged and provocative rhetoric. That raises the question that if President Trump is to be impeached for such language, should it follow that any member of Congress who uses similar language, including telling a crowd on the steps of the Supreme Court that justices ‘have released the whirlwind and will pay the price’ be similarly sanctioned?

“The most serious aspect of President Trump’s conduct was not necessarily what he said in the lead-up to the attack of the Capitol, but the leadership he failed to provide to put an end to it, and yet the House curiously chose not to file a charge or build their case around this point.

“It is important to note that a not guilty verdict is not the same as being declared innocent. President Trump is most certainly not the victim here; his words and actions were reckless and he shares responsibility for the disgrace that occurred on Jan. 6.

“Everyone knew going into this impeachment trial that it would infuriate one half of the electorate regardless of the outcome and make our nation even more polarized. I hope that the end result is short-lived, and the responsibility falls on all of us to do better. Elected officials must stop embracing and propagating dangerous and baseless conspiracy theories that undermine the faith we have in our nation and our institutions. And when we see violence, anarchy, and thuggery — regardless of whether it comes from white nationalists in the Capitol or ANTIFA in the streets of Portland and Seattle — we have an obligation to condemn it. And most importantly, we need to stop casting those who we disagree with as ‘enemies’ with evil motives and instead recognize that despite our differences we are all fellow Americans.”