WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Following President Trump's second impeachment, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) has signaled that he will not be voting to convict the president when the Senate starts their trial.
Wednesday (Jan. 13), during an unprecedented time in U.S. history, House members voted 232-197 to impeach President Trump for a second time. President Trump is the first president of the United States to be impeached twice.
The vote came after a mob of pro-Trump supporters rioted at the Capitol trying to stop Congress from certifying electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden. President Trump and his allies riled up the crowd outside the White House before the Capitol was stormed. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died due to the violent actions of the mob. The FBI has opened several investigations into what happened at the Capitol and has begun making arrests.
The heated moment was fueled by months of false claims by President Trump and his allies that the election was "stolen" from him. There have been no credible claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.
Tom Cotton, an ally of President Trump over the last four years, condemned the siege on Capitol Hill and called for everyone that stormed the inside of the Capitol Building to "face (the) full extent of the law." But, Senator Cotton does not seem keen on holding President Trump responsible for what took place at the nation's Capitol.
In a memo released following the House vote to impeach President Trump on Wednesday, Senator Cotton implied he would not be voting to convict President Trump when the trial heads to the Senate, citing that the Constitution does not call for removing a private citizen from office. Senate members will not meet again until Jan. 19, 2021, a day before President Trump leaves office.
His full comments can be read below:
“There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.’ Those words are as true today as when Abraham Lincoln spoke them. As I said last summer when mob violence gripped our streets, so I say again about the mob violence at our nation’s Capitol last week: those persons responsible should be held accountable in the courts to the full extent of the law.
The House has passed an article of impeachment against the president, but the Senate under its rules and precedents cannot start and conclude a fair trial before the president leaves office next week. Under these circumstances, the Senate lacks constitutional authority to conduct impeachment proceedings against a former president. The Founders designed the impeachment process as a way to remove officeholders from public office—not an inquest against private citizens. The Constitution presupposes an office from which an impeached officeholder can be removed.
Fidelity to the Constitution must always remain the lodestar for our nation. Last week, I opposed the effort to reject certified electoral votes for the same reason—fidelity to the Constitution—I now oppose impeachment proceedings against a former president.
Congress and the executive branch should concentrate entirely for the next week on conducting a safe and orderly transfer of power. After January 20, Congress should get on with the people’s business: improving our vaccination efforts, getting kids back to school, and getting workers back on the job.”
Each Arkansas Representative in Congress, Rep. Bruce Westerman, Rep. French Hill, Rep. Steve Womack, and Rep. Rick Crawford, voted against impeaching President Trump in 2019 and 2021.