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Further U.S. divide a worry for Reed

In this image from video, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., right, listens as Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., speaks as the House reconvenes to debate the objection to confirm the Electoral College vote from Arizona, after protesters stormed into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (House Television via AP)

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed indicated he would consider supporting measures that would prevent President Donald Trump from seeking office again — but not through impeachment.

In a lengthy op-ed in the New York Times, the Corning Republican said Trump, along with others involved, indeed should face “justice” after the deadly riot last week at the Capitol. The comments follow his fiery remarks to Congress denouncing the violence in Washington as the election was being certified.

“We will never forget the events of Jan. 6,” Reed said in his op-ed, which was shared with the media by his staff. “Our democratic institutions were assaulted. Lives were lost. The very foundations of our nation were shaken — but not broken. All responsible parties, including President Trump, must face justice.”

However, unlike many Democrats in Congress, as well as at least two GOP senators, Reed said he does not support efforts to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection” in the president’s last days in office.

Among the reasons, he noted in the Times, is that it could further divide the country while failing to accomplish anything.

“Given the tools that lie before Congress, it is clear that pursuing impeachment only days before President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated is not the answer,” Reed wrote. “Most important, there is inadequate time to reasonably investigate, present and debate articles of impeachment.”

“Rushing through the substantive and procedural requirements for such a monumental action will directly diminish the validity of impeachment,” he continued. “We cannot rush to judgment simply because we want retribution or, worse, because we want to achieve a particular political outcome.”

Reed said he planned to join his House colleagues in the introduction of a censure resolution again Trump for the Jan. 6 events at the Capitol. A censure is public reprimand, but does not go as far as expulsion.

The congressman said lawmakers also can take action under the 14th Amendment, specifically Section 3, that states those found to have engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” against the country cannot hold office.

“We must also look at alternatives that could allow Congress to bar Mr. Trump from holding federal office in the future,” Reed said.

The comments this week follow a series of political rebukes from Reed. The Corning Republican was one of the first in his party to acknowledge Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election.

“I spoke out against the Texas lawsuit against other states’ election processes and voted to certify the results of the presidential election,” he wrote. “I have supported the president on many issues, but I have no interest in stopping justice from being served.”

In addition Reed was previously named an Honorary Chair of Trump’s re-election campaign in New York.

“But make no mistake, our Constitution is the bedrock of our great nation,” he said. “Impeachment now, days before Mr. Trump’s term ends, would be a grave error, diluting the meaning of that important constitutional provision forever. We cannot and should not support a rushed, divisive action simply because the emotions of the moment demand it. That is not the American way.”

On Tuesday, members of the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Women’s Action Group called on Reed to support impeachment efforts on Trump. In a letter from co-presidents Joanne Kelley and Joy Bilharz, the group thanked the congressman for “carrying out his constitutional obligation” to certify electoral college votes.

“We appreciate your stance respecting President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris’s election,” the pair said. “You acted with conviction in the face of the insurrection that we all witnessed and that you and our other elected representatives and senators confronted that day.”

They added, “We are asking you to do more than you were obligated to do on January 6. We are asking you to do the more difficult and personally and politically challenging right thing. We are asking you to bring President Donald J. Trump to account and impeach him.”

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