BY: ADIA ROBINSON, ABC NEWS
(WASHINGTON) — Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle said on ABC’s “This Week” that they want to see Trump leave office before the end of his term.
Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Sunday that impeachment should “absolutely” be scheduled, while Republican Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger said he would “vote the right way” if it’s presented, but that he doesn’t think impeachment is “the smart move” right now.
“I think it victimizes Donald Trump again and I think there’s a moment that we’re in right now where Donald Trump, he’s looking really, really bad,” he told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos. “I’ll vote the right way, you know, if I’m presented with that. I just think it’s probably not the smartest move right now, but I think that’s going to be out of my hands.”
Ocasio-Cortez said she backs impeachment.
“Our main priority is to ensure the removal of Donald Trump as president of the United States,” she said in an earlier interview on “This Week” Sunday. “Every minute and every hour that he is in office represents a clear and present danger, not just to the United States Congress but frankly to the country.”
“We’re also talking about complete barring of the president — or rather of Donald Trump — from running for office ever again,” she added. “And in addition to that the potential ability to prevent pardoning himself from those charges that he was impeached for.”
When Stephanopoulos asked Kinzinger for the better alternative to impeachment, the Illinois representative said, I think the best thing for the country to heal would be for him to resign. The next best thing is the 25th Amendment.”
“That’s why I call on Vice President Pence to do it,” he said. “This is the thing that just gets us out of the debate in Congress, it doesn’t victimize Donald Trump, it makes him look as bad as he has been here.”
Kinzinger added that he felt impeachment would be the right move if “we had more than basically 10 days left of the administration.”
“Yeah he’ll be impeached a second time but also exonerated in theory a second time, depends on how that trial goes, if they can do it when he’s out of office, Kinzinger said. “I think there’s a lot of ideas with censure — with preventing him from being able to run again. You know the reality is we just don’t have a lot of time in this administration left which, right now, is a good thing.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has asked members to be prepared to return to Washington this week in a letter, a signal that the House could take up and pass the impeachment article to the Senate after it is formally introduced on Monday. A draft article of impeachment circulating among House Democrats Friday would charge Trump with “incitement of insurrection.”
In a letter, House Republicans said impeachment would further divide the country, but when asked about it by Stephanopoulos, Ocasio-Cortez said the House needs to more forward quickly to prevent future acts.
“What happened on Wednesday, was insurrection against the United States. That is what Donald J. Trump engaged in and that is what those who stormed the Capitol engaged in,” she said. “And so when we talk about healing, the process of healing is separate and, in fact, requires accountability. And so if we allow insurrection against the United States with impunity, with no accountability, we are inviting it to happen again.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent a memo to Senate Republicans which noted an impeachment trial would likely not begin until after the inauguration, the Washington Post reported Saturday.
Stephanopoulos on Sunday questioned Ocasio-Cortez on the timing of impeachment, bringing up concerns that it could hold up legislation and confirmations at the beginning of President-elect Joe Biden’s administration. She said that addressing what happened takes precedence over the Senate acting on Biden’s nominees.
“I think we need to review what actually happened on Wednesday,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “The National Guard was requested by the D.C. Council, and was rejected. We are talking about and we are hearing about a complete and utter lack of preparation. The chief of the D.C. Capitol Police lied to House administration Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren about the preparations of what happened.”
“If we do not take corrective action right now, we are talking about those same potentially compromised element elements, being in charge of the president’s security, during the inauguration,” she added. “With profound respect, I believe that the president’s safety and the safety of the United States Congress and in the security of our country.”
“It takes precedent over the timing of nominations and the timing of potential confirmations,” she said. “This is an immediate danger right now.”
She also acknowledged that Democrats were open to other avenues for removing Trump, referencing the 25th and 14th Amendments.
“I do not believe that those avenues are mutually exclusive,” she said. “They all — they all frankly provide their own form of relief and their own forms of accountability and so I do not believe that this is a question of deciding or debating between which of these avenues we should pursue. I believe we should take an all-of-the-above approach.”
Some Republican senators have also come out in favor of removing Trump from office.
Sen. Lisa Murkowsi, R-Alaska, called for Trump to resign and Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said he would be open to impeachment.
Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey told Fox News on Saturday that he thought the president had “committed impeachable offenses.”
And later on “This Week,” Trump ally and former Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he thought the president committed impeachable offenses and would have voted to impeach Trump if he served in Congress.
“If inciting to insurrection isn’t, then I don’t really know what is,” the ABC News contributor said.
Stephanopoulos also pressed Kinzinger on why so few Republicans had spoken out against the president.
“I think a lot of it is fear,” he said. “You know there’s fear that infects so many sides of the debate right now.”
“We got Vice President Pence, one of the most faithful guys to Donald Trump, is now public enemy number one in Trump world,” he added. “I think that’s what it comes down to, but if you’re going to be fearful — just my humble opinion — if you’re going to be fearful in this job. It may not be the right job for you at this moment in time.”
Both Kinzinger and Ocasio-Cortez expressed a deep concern about the harrowing ordeal members went through suggesting that members of Congress could have been killed. Ocasio-Cortez said that close to half of the House of Representatives nearly died Wednesday.
“I think we were very close to actually having members of Congress killed,” Kinzinger said. “We were blessed on the one hand to not lose any members of Congress, but we lost five people and it’s disgusting.”
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.