Bakersfield Republican and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called out President Donald Trump Wednesday in an impassioned speech from the floor of the House Chambers for his role in last week’s riot at the Capitol, but it was Rep. David Valadao, sworn into office just a day before, who broke ranks with his party, along with nine other Republican colleagues, and voted in favor of impeachment on the charge of inciting an insurrection.
In an emailed statement after the vote, Valadao said: "Based on the facts before me, I have to go with my gut and vote my conscience. I voted to impeach President Trump. His inciting rhetoric was un-American, abhorrent, and absolutely an impeachable offense. It's time to put country over politics."
Valadao, who had missed the official swearing-in ceremony earlier this month because he had COVID-19, was one of the last Republicans to cast his vote Wednesday. Valadao, who won back the seat he previously held by a slim margin after a protracted vote count, said in his statement afterward that he preferred censure but it wasn’t an option.
"Speaker Pelosi has thrown precedent and process out the window by turning what should be a thorough investigation into a rushed political stunt,” Valadao said. “I wish, more than anything, that we had more time to hold hearings to ensure due process."
In his speech on the floor, McCarthy said he preferred censure and a fact-finding, bipartisan commission to impeachment, which he called ‘divisive.’ McCarthy also clearly denounced claims that the mob were ANTIFA members and directly placed some of the responsibility for last week's events on Trump.
“The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding,” McCarthy said.
But he went on to say that impeaching the president “would be a mistake” and “further fan the flames of partisan division.”
“No investigations have been completed. No hearings have been held. What’s more, the Senate has confirmed that no trial will begin until after President-Elect (Joe) Biden is sworn in."
In an interview on The Ralph Bailey Show Wednesday afternoon, McCarthy defended his stance against impeachment, saying President Trump urged the crowd on Jan. 6 “to go up and demonstrate peacefully.”
“I feel he has some responsibility that’s why I feel censure rises to that level,” McCarthy said. “It’s not impeachable. He did not say, ‘go in.’”
He also pointed to new reports that the FBI had information about a planned attack on the Capitol ahead of time as evidence that impeachment for inciting the events was unfounded.
McCarthy also defended his vote to object to the certification of the Electoral College count after the riot, telling Bailey it was the appropriate time to raise concerns about elections but he didn’t do so expecting it to change the outcome of the election results.
“We have a constitutional right to debate it,” he said. “It would not have changed the outcome of the election.“
“I was debating on principle, not politics,” he said..
At one point, Bailey told McCarthy, whom he says is also a good friend: “I fear for you Congressman as a friend and a constituent.”
“Why do you fear for me?” McCarthy asked.
“I fear you’re on the wrong side of history,” Bailey said.
“All right,” McCarthy responded.