House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy delivered a speech on the House floor against impeaching President Trump in the wake of the attack on the Capitol. Leader McCarthy explained that a vote to impeach President Trump will further divide the nation and fan the flames of partisan division at a time when unity is critical to heal and grow stronger.
“Madam Speaker — Let me be clear: last week’s violent attack on the Capitol was undemocratic, un-American, and criminal.
“Violence is never a legitimate form of protest. Freedom of speech and assembly under the Constitution is rooted in nonviolence.
“Yet the violent mob that descended on this body was neither peaceful nor democratic. It acted to disrupt Congress’s constitutional responsibility.
“It was also an attack on the people who work in this institution — members, staff, and the hundreds who work behind the scenes so that we can serve the American people.
“The greatest statesmen in the history of our country understood that the most dangerous threat to freedom is lawlessness.
“A young lawyer named Abraham Lincoln famously said, ‘There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.’
“Yet for several hours last week, mob law tried to interfere with constitutional law.
“Some say the riots were caused by Antifa. There is absolutely no evidence of that. And conservatives should be the first to say so.
“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.’ And last week, we saw mob violence met by courage, sacrifice, and heroism from the brave men and women who protect this institution every day.
“But for the bravery of the Capitol Police, the destruction and loss could have been much greater. We owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude.
“The loss of Officer Brian Sicknick and Officer Howard Liebengood is tragic and heartbreaking. We mourn their loss, remember their lives, and continue to pray for their families and loved ones.
“The Officers of the Capitol Police deserve our eternal thanks. We will never forget the dangers they faced, the determination they showed, or the sacrifices they made.
“And make no mistake: those who are responsible for Wednesday’s chaos will be brought to justice.
“Which brings us to today’s debate.
“I believe impeaching the President in such a short timeframe would be a mistake.
“No investigations have been completed. No hearings have been held.
“What’s more, the Senate has confirmed that no trial will begin until after President-Elect Biden is sworn in.
“But here is what a vote to impeach would do:
“A vote to impeach will further divide the nation.
“A vote to impeach will further fan the flames of partisan division.
“Most Americans want neither inaction nor retribution. They want durable, bipartisan justice.
“That path is still available, but it is not the path we are on today.
“That doesn’t mean the President is free from fault.
“The President bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters.
“He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.
“These facts require immediate actions by President Trump:
“Accept his share of responsibility.
“Quell the brewing unrest.
“And ensure President-Elect Biden is able to successfully begin his term.
“And the president’s immediate action also deserves congressional action — which is why I think a fact-finding commission and a censure resolution would be prudent.
“These facts deserve congressional action — which is why I think a fact-finding commission and a censure resolution would be prudent.
“Unfortunately, that is not where we are today.
“Truly, this past week was one of the most difficult for Congress and for our nation. Of all my days here, last Wednesday was the worst day I’ve ever seen in Congress. Our country is deeply hurt.
“So where do we go from here?
“After all the violence and chaos of the last week, it is important to remember that we are still here to deliver a better future for all Americans.
“It doesn’t matter if you are liberal, moderate, or conservative — all of us must resist the temptations of further polarization.
“Instead, we must unite once again as Americans.
“I understand that — for some — this call for unity may ring hollow.
“But times like these are when we must remember who we are as Americans and what we as a nation stand for. And as history shows, unity is not an option, it’s a necessity.
“It’s as necessary today as it was at the start of our country.
“Think back to how John Adams and the Federalist Party handed power over to Thomas Jefferson and his party after the Election of 1800.
“That election — and indeed that era — was one of the most divisive ever.
“Partisans used every dirty trick in the book. They demonized each other, dismissed reasonable dissent, and described their opponents as seditious.
“The Election of 1800 could have destroyed our young nation.
“But instead of breaking us, it helped to bring us together — thereby preserving the world’s last, best hope for freedom.
“After a hard-fought battle over the Electoral College in Congress, Adams conceded. And a peaceful transfer of power — the first in American history — took place.
“Jefferson, for his part, put aside the division of the era and preached forgiveness and, yes, unity.
“In his First Inaugural Address, he famously said, ‘every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.’
“Jefferson and Adams did not end every difference of opinion that existed in America, nor did they try. In a free country as big and diverse as ours, that would be impossible.
“What they did was more important: they recognized a deeper unity — a unity rooted in that famous proposition both men helped write.
“At a critical moment in history, our Founders chose peace, liberty, and partnership over tension, division, and partisanship. For the sake of our country, we must make the same choice.
“We have already begun.
“Last week, despite the lingering shock and amid windows still broken, we did what all healthy democracies do: we debated and we voted. In this country, we solve our disputes at the ballot box and through debates and votes on the floor of this chamber.
“We did our duty then. But we must do more.
“The eyes of the nation and the world are upon us. We must seize this opportunity to heal and grow stronger.
“As leaders, our place in history depends on whether we call on our better angels and refocus our efforts to work directly for the American people.
“United, we can deliver the peace, strength, and prosperity our country needs.
“Divided, we will fail.
“What we saw last week was not the American way.
“Neither is the continued rhetoric that Joe Biden is not the legitimate president.
“Let’s be clear, Joe Biden will be sworn in as the President of the United States in one week because he won the election.
“And his presidency and this Congress will face immediate American challenges that must be addressed.
“I stand ready to assist in that effort — with good faith, good will, and an open hand.
“The United States remains exceptional.
“We remain extraordinary.
“And in the coming weeks and months, we must work together — all of us — to recharge the light of our Shining City on a Hill.
“In these trying times, may God continue to bless America.
“I yield back.”