Which classrooms are demanding my attention today? At least three had House members I wanted to hear from: Meet the Press, This Week with George, and CNN's State of the Union. Let's see how much we can fit in.
Before we get to Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) and her chat with Chuck Todd on MTP, I want to give you a quick highlight from Chuck's interview with DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. Todd wondered how long they'd be living with the increased security and what "feels like an armed camp" in DC.
Bowser didn't pull any punches in her response.
I think the question is a bigger question, Chuck. It is how serious is our country going to take domestic white extremism? And I think what we saw here last week is that we didn't take it seriously enough. We've never believed that so-called patriots would attempt to overthrow their government and kill police officers. But that's exactly what happened. And so, I do think we have to take another posture in our city that is more domestic terrorist focused than external to our country and act accordingly...
As her answer sinks in, let's hear from Rep. Mace. She was disappointed (as was I, honestly) that impeachment was the only option they could consider; the "bicameral, bipartisan effort" to consider censure instead was not an option.
That would one, hold the president accountable for his words and his actions and two, also prohibit from holding office again in the future. Unfortunately, the speaker wouldn't let us bring it up for debate or bring it up for a vote. There were measures, there were folks in place in both chambers, in both parties, that were willing to do that and go that far. But unfortunately, we didn't have the opportunity at all last week.
And while she admitted that keeping Trump from ever holding office again via censure is "complex, constitutionally" they were willing to try and figure it out. Mace said it was "enormously disappointing" that, after she "literally had to walk through a crime scene" to vote to certify the Electoral College votes, leaders Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise, and other Rs still objected. That shows they "have reconciliation that needs to happen" within the GOP, and the country.
Mace thinks Liz Cheney will survive and keep her leadership role; not only that, but she noted the irony that "the same people that were complaining and screaming about the president being silenced on Twitter want to silence a dissenting voice within our own party," which is also "very hypocritical and very disappointing."
Part of the American experiment in this country is the ability and opportunity to debate ideas. Even when we disagree, we have the ability to agree to disagree and not attack one another. And there's so much division, not only within our party, but within our country right now. And we've got to do a better job. And I hope and I support Liz Cheney. And I hope that she stays a part of leadership. We need these voices right now more than ever.
We definitely need voices that are not beholden to any person or party, for sure.
Over in the This Week classroom, George talked with Joaquin Castro (D-TX), one of the impeachment managers. He wasn't sure how long the trial would take, but he said they'd do whatever was needed to make the case for the American people and for members of the Senate. He correctly noted that Trump's been talking about the stolen election and being cheated "for months" and then "got these folks riled up on that day, asked them to march down to the Capitol and when all of this was going on, when there was a riot inside the US Capitol, also didn't send relief to quell it."
George noted that Trump asked people to be peaceful on January sixth, and suggested it was a First Amendment issue, but Castro disagreed. Referring to "the big lie" about the election, and all of the losing court cases, and that Trump "knew what he was doing, and watched as that mob took over the U.S. Capitol..."
He's also not concerned about the constitutionality of convicting a president who's already out of office, and that one of the points of doing it is to make sure Trump can't run for office again. And, they plan on fighting for every vote in the Senate, and making sure Trump is held accountable for "inciting this deadly insurrection..."
Next, George talked with Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI), another newbie, and one of the ten Rs who voted for to impeach. He said he hasn't seen any evidence that members of Congress or any staffers were involved, and that it's "important" that folks don't "get ahead of the process."
... If anyone was responsible or participated, they should be held to the fullest extent of the law and we can talk about those remedial processes later. But at the moment, I think it's important we don't jump to conclusions.
And, he described the last few days as "absolutely gut-wrenching," saying impeaching a president from his own party was "nothing that we ever hoped to do."
Many of us deliberated deeply. This was not as easy as just saying what is in our best political interest, but, frankly, looking at the evidence, looking at the facts of the case, reading the article and - and asking, is this true by our own experience, by our lived experience? And it was.
Meijer also said that it's a "time for reflection, but also a time for accountability," something he's "deeply committed to."
You know, I'm calling on my party to restore trust, to restore the trust of the voting public and to ensure that we never allow the actions that led up to January 6th and what happened on January 6th, we never allow that outburst of political violence to occur in our name again.
He told George he can't really say a whole lot about any other people's votes on impeachment, or about overturning the election, although he did credit many of his colleagues with "honest and forthright" decision-making, He worries when individual concerns become collective concerns, something that happened after the election, which built into "something that ended up supporting the president's, you know, false idea that he had won in a landslide... "
We need to make sure that we have leaders who are telling folks who trust them what they need to hear, not just what they want to hear.
Politically, he may have cooked his own goose by voting to impeach, but stressed the importance of having "elected leaders who are not thinking solely about what's in their individual self-interest, not what is going to be politically expedient, but what we actually need for country."
About Trump, he said that "it's time that we acknowledge that what happened on January 6th was a betrayal of what had been accomplished over the past four years... " and added
You know, the president brought some necessary energy. He brought some necessary ideas. He shook the tree. He was a change agent. The challenge was that he -- he didn't know when to stop, and he didn't draw a line.
Finally, on what incoming President Biden can do to help heal the divide?
I think it's incumbent on both parties to ensure that they are not promoting folks within their ranks who are engaged in a politics of deception, but rather having open, thoughtful, honest, engaged conversations. I hope that President Biden will do the same, that he will not give in to some of the more, you know, some of the lower impulses that -- that folks in the progressive wing may try to bring out, but rather say that this is a time for the country to focus on rebuilding; this is a time for the country to focus on rebuilding trust, rebuilding our institutions, rebuilding governance. You know, we need to get through the pandemic. We need to deal with the economic consequences and the fallout. But we also need to heal all of the divides that have been exposed over the past several years.
Wait, what? The lower impulses that the progressives may try to bring out? How can any Republican talk about the "lower impulses" of the other side, given (as I've said before) they play underground limbo on their own side of the aisle? Sorry, Rep. Meijer. I was with you for a while, but you lost me with that.
Unfortunately, we're out of room for CNN SOTU. I'll see what we can fit in to your Extra Credit.
See you around campus.