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Stefanik continues to oppose impeachment push

Rep. Elise Stefanik gives a victory speech at her election night headquarters at the Queensbury Hotel in Glens Falls Nov. 3, 2020. (Provided photo — Christopher Lenney, Watertown Daily Times)

House Democrats on Monday morning unveiled a resolution to impeach President Donald Trump on the charge of “incitement of insurrection,” accusing him of instigating those who carried out the breach of the U.S. Capitol building last Wednesday.

The riot that overtook the building left vandalism in its wake and five people dead, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer.

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik’s (R-Schuylerville) Communications Director Karoline Leavitt reiterated the congresswoman’s stance in opposition to “the Democrats’ partisan and political push for impeachment.”

“The Electoral College was debated and certified for President-elect Joe Biden, and Congresswoman Stefanik believes that we should work to unify as a nation to ensure we have a peaceful transfer of power on Jan. 20,” she said.

Leavitt said Stefanik planned to either attend the inauguration in-person or participate virtually, depending on the guidance given to members.

Possible vote today

Democrats have called on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the powers in the 25th Amendment that allow him and a majority of executive cabinet members to declare the president unable to fulfill the duties of his office. Pence would assume the position of “acting president” until Jan. 20, when Biden is sworn in.

Since House Republicans blocked a resolution calling for Pence to take that action Monday morning, a roll call vote on it is set for Tuesday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that if Pence does not act, the House will bring the impeachment article to the floor. That could happen as soon as today.

More than 210 Democrats have signed onto the impeachment resolution, which accuses the president of “inciting violence against the government of the United States.”

If the effort is successful, Trump would be the first president in United States history to be impeached by the House twice.

“Endangered, interfered”

The impeachment resolution’s text points to statements made by the president falsely claiming widespread election fraud both in the months leading up to Wednesday’s joint session of Congress — intended for the counting of Electoral College votes — and during an event at the Ellipse shortly before the session commenced.

“He also willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — lawless action at the Capitol, such as: ‘if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore,'” it reads.

“Thus incited by President Trump, members of the crowd he had addressed, in an attempt to, among other objectives, interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election, unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President, and Congressional personnel, and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive and seditious acts.”

The resolution also notes a phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger on Jan. 2 in which the president pressured him to “find” votes needed to overturn Georgia’s election results.

The article states the president, among other things, endangered the country’s security, interfered with a peaceful transition and “imperiled a coequal branch of government,” thus warranting his impeachment, removal and disqualification to hold office in the United States.

Unanswered questions

Stefanik gained national attention through her ardent and televised support of the president during the 2019 impeachment proceedings, which were largely partisan. Though the House adopted two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — the Senate later acquitted Trump.

Leavitt’s response to questions sent via email did not include Stefanik’s reaction to the specific allegations against the president contained in the “incitement of insurrection” article and why she might have disagreed with the accusation.

Other questions left unanswered included whether Stefanik believed Trump was fit to remain in office for the rest of his term, her thoughts on the short- and long-term impacts of a successful impeachment attempt, and how she was working to not isolate constituents who did not vote for the president, herself or either during this divisive time.

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