Rep. Tom Cole: Impeachment of Trump would mean more national trauma
As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sought to prevent an “unhinged” President Donald Trump from having access to nuclear codes, Rep. Tom Cole said Friday that it was not in the country’s interest for Congress to remove the president from office with less than two weeks left of his term.
Cole, R-Moore, said he didn’t think Congress would have time to remove the president from office, and that impeachment and a trial could further traumatize the country.
“As to whether or not he resigns, that’s up to him,” Cole said in an interview, adding that he didn’t think Vice President Mike Pence would invoke the 25th Amendment.
“On impeachment, it’s really up to Democrats. They certainly have the votes to impeach if they choose to do so. And if they did, I’m not sure the Senate would have time for a trial. So again, to me, why put the country through this when it ends in 13 days? So I would hope we could avoid any additional trauma nationally.”
CNN reported Friday that an article of impeachment is being circulated in the House that accuses the president of incitement of insurrection.
The draft of the article, as reported by CNN, states that Trump, in a speech shortly before the riot, “willfully made statements that encouraged — and forseeably resulted in — imminent lawless action at the Capitol. Incited by President Trump, a mob unlawfully breached the Capitol, injured law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress and the Vice President, interfered with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the election results, and engaged in violent, deadly, destructive and seditious acts.”
Asked if he would vote to impeach the president, Cole, who had not seen the draft article, said Friday, “I’m going to wait and see … Again, I just don’t think it’s in the country’s interest. I don’t see any good coming out of that. So I would prefer that the Democrats not do that. I think they should take a lesson from Gerald Ford — there’s a time to heal and bring these things to a close.”
Ford became president when Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace in 1974, and then granted a pardon to Nixon.
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Pelosi and other Democrats have expressed concerns since the riot that the president’s behavior is erratic and could pose a danger.
In a letter to Democratic lawmakers on Friday, Pelosi said there was “growing momentum” around invoking the 25th Amendment, and she said Republicans in Congress should call on Trump to leave office.
“If the President does not leave office immediately and willingly, the Congress will proceed with our action,” Pelosi said.
Pelsoi told her colleagues that she and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley had discussed “available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike. The situation of this unhinged President could not be more dangerous, and we must do everything that we can to protect the American people from his unbalanced assault on our country and our democracy.”
Cole said he didn’t see the president as a threat to the nation before Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
“The president has, number one, condemned the violence, and that’s a good thing — better late than never,” he said. “He’s acknowledged a new administration is coming in. He has committed to a peaceful transfer. Now if he were to violate any of that, that would be another question. But I have no reason to believe that he will.”
Cole was among the Republicans who voted on Wednesday and early Thursday to reject Electoral College votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania. All five U.S. House members from Oklahoma voted to uphold objections to the two states' votes; they were defeated overwhelmingly.
Congress completed its count of the Electoral College votes, certifying the 306 votes for Biden and the 232 for Trump.
In a tweet on Friday, Trump said he would not attend the Jan. 20 inauguration.
Cole said, “I think if I were the president, I wouldn’t announce a decision. I would call (President-elect) Biden and ask him what he wanted me to do. And I don’t know if anything like that occurred … Regardless, you can’t force somebody to come if they don’t want to. It’s very unusual; it’s not unprecedented.”
At a news conference on Friday, Biden said, "It's a good thing he's not showing up."