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Westerman releases reasoning on impeachment vote

by Tyler Wann | January 15, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.
U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman listens to a presentation at the Mulberry Community Center in this Aug. 31, 2020, file photo. - Photo by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Saccente

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-District 4, of Hot Springs voted Wednesday not to impeach President Donald Trump on charges of inciting an insurrection following last week's invasion of the Capitol by a violent mob of the president's supporters.

Westerman explained his reasoning in a statement released Wednesday night:

"I voted against impeaching President Donald J. Trump in the U.S. House of Representatives. Today's rushed process is not in keeping with one of the House's most solemn responsibilities. Unlike previous impeachment votes, there were no hearings and very little debate of the serious charges brought against the president. I carefully considered my colleagues' arguments and determined that our constitutional duty to carefully consider the power of impeachment must not be circumvented for the sake of expediency. This rushed impeachment sets a dangerous precedent for future Congresses. In addition, Joseph Biden will become president in seven days. This vote does nothing to remove President Trump before that time.

"One week ago, I experienced the attack on the Capitol firsthand. I make no excuses for the president or any others involved, and I pray that our country never again experiences an event like this. All those involved must be held accountable for their actions, and they must receive justice according to the constitutional rights they have as citizens of this country.

"Political rhetoric and the events of the past week have highlighted divisions in Congress and across the United States. It has divided our friends and our families. Even in my immediate family, there are differences of opinion on impeachment. It's in our states, communities and churches. My prayer is that we end the divisions and move forward together seeking a more perfect union."

Westerman was not available for an interview on Thursday.

Arkansas' other three Republican Congressman also voted not to impeach the president.

The House voted 232-197 to impeach Trump, who was charged with "incitement of insurrection," according to an Associated Press report. Under Senate procedure, the trial is to start soon after the House delivers the article of impeachment. That could mean starting at 1 p.m. on Inauguration Day, The Associated Press reported Thursday. The ceremony at the Capitol starts at noon.

Trump is the first U.S. president to be impeached twice, according to the AP.

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