GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Some Republicans say the impeachment of former President Donald Trump is driving disunity and that the only way to heal is to let it go. U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer disagrees.
Meijer, a freshman legislator from Grand Rapids, is a Republican. He’s among 10 who voted with Democrats to impeach Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. A trial should start this month in the Senate. It seems unlikely that 17 Republican senators — the number needed to join with Democrats to get to the two-thirds necessary to convict — will abandon the party line.
Meijer said some who earlier condemned the riot and acknowledged that Trump’s lies about the election contributed to it now seem to be backpedaling.
“Many of the folks who were highly critical have softened and/or just said, ‘Well, it’s time to move on.’ That, to me, it what’s especially troubling,” Meijer told News 8 in a video call Monday. “I think unless we have accountability, unless we say that we do not tolerate political violence or politicians who flirt with or right up to that line or frankly are complicit in inciting those type of violent behaviors, unless we’re clear and unequivocal in that condemnation and holding those responsible, then we’re never going to be able to move past this point.”
The impeachment is causing schisms within the Republican Party. Some want to remove Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who was among those who voted to impeach, from her No. 3 ranking among House Republicans.
“That was a vote of conscience,” Meijer said. “The idea of stripping someone of an assignment because they voted how they felt was right — and this was not something that was being whipped, it wasn’t something where Republicans were being told to fall in line on this issue; it was, as I said, a vote of conscience — having the person who suffers most politically from the insurrection on Jan. 6 be somebody who stood up, took a leadership role and did what they thought was in the best interests of the country and the party, to me sends an absolute wrong signal.”
It’s not just about Cheney, he said. Republicans, he said, continue to suffer members who spew conspiracies that are not just unlikely but “completely divorced from reality.” He didn’t mention fellow freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., by name but he did reference conspiracy theories she has amplified.
“I want to get to the point where we have a politics where reasonable people can disagree,” he said. “Reasonable people can disagree on what the number should be for X, Y or Z, COVID package. We can disagree on what needs to be prioritized. We can’t disagree on whether or not there are fifth dimensional aliens that are controlling some parts of the government.”
There has been talk of censuring Greene or even expelling her from Congress, but Meijer said that doesn’t get to the core of the problem.
“We have a political process that rewards that. The inflammation of controversy, having an oppositional approach, you get rewarded by political loyalty, you get rewarded with financial contributions. So many components of the system are creating a very perverse incentive structure,” he said. “If we just try to deal with the individual rather than reform the system that leads to such broken outcomes, I think we’ll be doing ourselves a disservice.”
Meijer will hold his first virtual town hall with constituents at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. You can RSVP to participate in the Zoom call at his website or watch it streaming on his Facebook page.