GOP senator: Public criticism of Trump is punishment enough for inciting a riot


Senate Republicans have indicated they will remain loyal to Donald Trump.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said on Thursday that public criticism is an appropriate "consequence" for Donald Trump's incitement of the riot by his followers that resulted in the deaths of five people at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Portman told CNBC's Shepard Smith that the Constitution's references to impeachment are "about removal" from office, noting that Trump "is a private citizen now" and suggesting that therefore proceeding with the impeachment process is inappropriate.

Smith pressed him, pointing out that Portman has previously said that Trump should face consequences for his role in inciting the attack.

"One appropriate consequence is people to speak out, as I have," Portman responded.

Despite voters indicating they believe Trump should stand trial on the charge of incitement and be convicted in the Senate, Republicans have already given signs they will once again side with him. Only five Senate Republicans voted against holding an impeachment trial at all.

Portman was not one of the five.

From the Jan. 28 edition of CNBC's "The News with Shepard Smith":

ROB PORTMAN: So if you look at the Constitution, easy to do because there aren't many sentences about impeachment, it's about removal. And this is a private citizen now, Donald Trump, not a president, and that's why —


SHEPARD SMITH, CNBC: Senator, senator, with respect, under that logic, you could wait until the last minute, resign, and move forward. You've said that consequences — there should be consequences. What should they be?


PORTMAN: Well, I will also tell you though, Shep, because you're talking about that precedent, think of the precedent in saying that Republicans can go after President Obama or President Clinton or Democrats can go after George W. Bush —


SMITH: We're avoiding the issue at hand. You've said that he bears some responsibility —


PORTMAN: That's right.


SMITH: — what is the appropriate punishment? We all watched what he did.


PORTMAN: Yeah. Well, one appropriate consequence is people to speak out, as I have, very clearly, before, frankly, and during and after. And I think that's important also that the House has acted so that there has been consequence in that way.


The impeachment is something I'm going to decide once I hear from both sides, as I have said consistently. I haven't made my mind up, but I think we have to look at the constitutionality of it because it sets a precedent that would be dangerous going forward.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.