Those same Republican lawmakers are refusing to retract their lies about the election or offer contrition for their role in today's political climate.
Congressional Republicans and right-wing media personalities have come up with a new excuse for why they won't punish Donald Trump for inciting a violent and deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week: They're saying the impeachment charges Democrats plan to introduce are "divisive" and calling on President-elect Joe Biden to heal the partisan divide.
The GOP's message, however, does not include taking any responsibility for the countless lies many Republican elected officials told to Trump supporters, including their continued, vocal support for Trump's baseless and incorrect allegations that the election was stolen.
Dozens of Republicans have now issued very similar statements about "healing," suggesting the messaging is being coordinated.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was one of the first to use the defense to keep Trump from being impeached for a second time, tweeting on Friday: "Impeaching the President with just 12 days left will only divide our country more. I've reached out to President-elect Biden today & plan to speak to him about how we must work together to lower the temperature & unite the country to solve America’s challenges."
McCarthy's tweet linked to his full statement, in which he did not apologize for pushing voter fraud lies, nor did he express any remorse for voting to overturn the Electoral College vote even after the violent Trump mob was removed from the Capitol.
Statement after statement from Republican lawmakers mirrors McCarthy's.
"President Trump showed extremely poor leadership on Wednesday, but there is no good Constitutional argument for impeachment," Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) tweeted, actually saying that inciting an insurrection is not ground for punishment. "Speaker Pelosi knows the Senate will not try this case before the President leaves office. Impeachment will only worsen divisions, rather than uniting us."
Even Republicans who didn't vote to overturn the results after the attempted insurrection made the same comments.
"Those calling for impeachment or invoking the 25th Amendment in response to President Trump’s rhetoric this week are themselves engaging in intemperate and inflammatory language and calling for action that is equally irresponsible and could well incite further violence," Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) tweeted, saying fear of violence from terrorists is a reason not to punish Trump for inciting said terrorists.
"Democrats to introduce articles of impeachment on Monday. New year, new impeachment. Same disrespect for our Constitution," Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) tweeted.
However, the Constitution explicitly states that insurrection against the United States is so bad it should disqualify people from federal elected office.
"This is a heated political moment, we've got to be able to bring the volume down," Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) said on Fox News personality Jeanine Pirro's show, who has been one of the loudest voices pushing Trump's false and unhinged conspiracy theories about stolen elections.
Lankford was initially on board with voting against certifying Biden's win but ultimately didn't vote that way after the attack.
The argument that Trump should not face punishments because it would be too "divisive" is not deterring Democrats, who will introduce one article of impeachment against Trump on Monday for "incitement of insurrection."
Meanwhile, a Reuters poll conducted after the insurrection found that 57% of Americans wanted Trump immediately removed from office — putting congressional Republicans who are once again moving to protect Trump on the wrong side of public opinion.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.