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GOP Rep. Biggs: Impeaching Trump at the end of his term 'will have made him a martyr'

"If we impeached every politician who gave a fiery speech to a crowd of partisans, this Capitol would be deserted; that's what the president did, that is all he did," said another GOP congressman

Updated: January 13, 2021 - 3:23pm

Arizona Republican Rep. Andy Biggs, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said Wednesday that impeaching President Trump with one week left in office would make him a martyr.

"You don't merely seek victory, but you seek obliteration of your nemesis. The thirst for Trump's destruction will not be slaked. However, even if you're successful today, and were the Senate to convict President Trump, yours will be a puric victory. For instead of stopping the Trump train, his movement will grow stronger, for you will have made him a martyr," Biggs said on the House floor during the debate of the impeachment resolution. 

"Surely you're aware of this and that is why your allies in the media seek to sensor conservative voices. Your chums that sit on the boards of corporate America, yes, the same companies that the left vilifies, promise to starve Republicans from receiving their PAC Donations. But I bet the groundswell of support for President Trump and his policies will not go away," he also said.

Biggs continued, saying, "The movement he started is based on building an incredibly robust economy, on a foundation of lower taxes and fewer regulations that has the wonderful effect of putting more people to work than ever."

California Republican Rep. Tom McClintock called the House Democrats' impeachment push unconstitutional.

"I cannot think of a more petty, vindictive and gratuitous act than to impeach an already defeated president a week before he is to leave office. President-elect Biden's promise to heal the nation becomes a hollow mockery in the harsh reality of this unconstitutional act," he said. "God help our country."

McClintock said he also "didn't like the president's speech" on Jan. 6, before supports breached the capitol, and thought Trump was wrong to assert that the vice president and Congress can pick and choose which electoral votes to count.

"He was wrong to set such a confrontational tone in a politically tense situation but what did he actually say? His exact words were, quote, 'I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.' Unquote. That's impeachable? That's called freedom of speech," he said.

McClintock defended Trump's threat to oppose Republicans who did not object to the Electoral College votes in certain states.

"He [Trump] also threatened to oppose candidates in future elections and by the way, that was directed at Republicans like me who resolved to uphold the constitutional process and protect the Electoral College. Well, so what? That's called politics," he said. "If we impeached every politician who gave a fiery speech to a crowd of partisans, this capitol would be deserted. That's what the president did, that is all he did. He specifically told the crowd to protest peacefully and patriotically. And the vast majority of them did but every movement has a lunatic fringe."

McClintock argued that holding the riots accountable is the best way to respond to the Capitol riot. 

"Suppressing free speech is not the answer. Holding rioters accountable for their actions is the answer. And we are. And if we prosecuted BLM and Antifa rioters across the country with the same determination these last six months, this incident may not have happened at all," he said. 

"Now, short of declaring war, the power of impeachment is the most solemn and consequential act that Congress can take. To use it in this manner, in the heat of the moment, with no hearings, no due process, many members phoning in their votes after a hastily called debate, exactly one week before a new president is to take office, trivializes this power to the point of caricature," McClintock added.

He said House Democrats are setting a dangerous precedent with the second impeachment effort.

"Benjamin Franklin warned us that passion governs and she never governs wisely. In our passions this week, we've set some dangerous new precedents that will haunt us for years to come. Yesterday we redefined intemperate speech as a physical incapacity requiring removal from office. Today we define it as a high crime and misdemeanor," McClintock said.

"The moment any member of this body gives an impassioned speech and a lunatic fringe of their movement takes license from it, be prepared to answer to this new precedent that we established today. Now, I could cite plenty of provocative speeches made by Democrats that directly preceded violence this summer. But we've already had enough of that," he also said.

Democratic Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, the incoming White House senior adviser and director of the Office of Public Engagement for the Biden administration, rejected the argument that not removing Trump would help unite the country.

"Some of my colleagues, some of which may well be co-conspirators. In their latest attempt to placate and please this unfit president, suggest that we shouldn't punish Trump for his actions in order to unify the country. That is the climax of foolishness," he said on the House floor. "Stand up, man up, woman up, and defend this constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic including Donald J. Trump. In the first impeachment, Republicans said we don't need to impeach him because he learned his lesson so no need to remove him. Well, we said if we didn't remove him he would do it again. Simply put, we told you so."