Washington, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Andy Barr (KY-06) released the following statement after voting in opposition to the impeachment of President Donald Trump:
“The President’s rhetoric on January 6th prior to the violence and mayhem at the U.S. Capitol building was regrettable and irresponsible. It was inappropriate for the President to discourage the Vice President from discharging his duties under the Constitution and the Electoral Count Act, neither of which give the Vice President, while acting as President of the Senate, unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not. Moreover, the President failed to appreciate the gravity of the crisis as it unfolded and should have taken more decisive and forceful action to intervene and help diffuse the situation.
“That said, I disagree with my colleagues who claim that the President’s words constituted “incitement to insurrection,” which is what House Democrats specifically allege in their article of impeachment. The U.S. Supreme Court has set the standard for speech that may be prosecuted as criminal incitement without violating the First Amendment. Based on the facts, I do not believe the President’s words, while unfortunate, satisfy the legal definition of incitement.
“But beyond the legal analysis of the President’s words, given the highly toxic and polarized political climate in which we find ourselves, and recognizing that a mere seven days remain in the term of this President during which there is no conceivable prospect for removal by the Senate, I fail to see how impeachment offers the country a constructive path forward toward reconciliation and healing. In fact, I see this vote on impeachment as less about upholding the standards of the presidency and more about carrying out an act of political vengeance, which will further divide an already divided country and pour gasoline on an already scorching fire.
“The President is not blameless. But now is the time for our nation’s leaders to lower the temperature and do their best to unite the country. Last week, President-elect Biden said, “Now it is time to turn the page, to unite, to heal.” I agree with the President-elect and I call on other Democrats in Congress to back up that rhetoric, show real leadership and, for the sake of our country, abandon this politically charged impeachment effort, which will set back any hope for reconciliation and further inflame the passions which have brought our country to this difficult moment.”