WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 13, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee issued a statement Saturday after voting to acquit former president Donald J. Trump of the charges brought against him in his second impeachment trial.
Lee begins his statement by saying:
“The House managers’ burden in this trial was to prove first, that the Senate should exercise its impeachment jurisdiction in a case against a former president; and second, that he committed the high crime of inciting an insurrection.”
Lee states that the House managers “did not clear either hurdle.”
While Lee says no one can condone the “horrific violence” of Jan. 6, or Trump’s “words, actions, and omissions on that day,” he takes exception to the use of the word “incitement” in the charges against the 45th president.
Those who voted to convict the former president have pointed to Trump’s repeated false claims that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him and that he “won by a landslide.”
During the impeachment trial, members of the Senate were reminded of Trump’s words to his supporters on Jan. 6, the day of the attack on the Capitol: “We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Lee, however, says the word “incitement” has a specific meaning in the law. He says Trump’s words and actions fell short of that standard.
For this reason and others, Lee explains in his statement, which appears below, why he chose to vote for Trump’s acquittal.
The House managers’ burden in this trial was to prove first, that the Senate should exercise its impeachment jurisdiction in a case against a former president; and second, that he committed the high crime of inciting an insurrection. The House managers did not clear either hurdle.
No one can condone the horrific violence that occurred on January 6, 2021–or President Trump’s words, actions, and omissions on that day. I certainly do not.
But, the fact is that the word ‘incitement’ has a very specific meaning in the law, and Donald Trump’s words and actions on January 6, 2021, fell short of that standard. The House rushed its impeachment without an investigation, charged President Trump with a crime it failed properly to allege, and then sat on its poorly worded Article until after he left office.
Given the politically suspicious process, the Senate should never have exercised jurisdiction over this Article in the first place. Convicting a former official would be an unprecedented and constitutionally dubious step—never before has the Senate convicted an impeached official after that official has left office. The House managers never demonstrated why that step was necessary in this case.
On the contrary, throughout the trial, the House managers repeatedly relied on hearsay, erroneous media reports, and political rhetoric rather than evidence.
Faced with the weak presentation of a deficient case demanding unprecedented constitutional action against a private citizen, acquittal was the only option I could deem consistent with the law, the facts, and the Constitution.
You can also read the statement on Sen. Lee’s Facebook page by clicking here.