By Ben Peters
Athens NEWS Associate Editor
Republican U.S. Reps. Steve Stivers and Bill Johnson voted last Wednesday to not charge exiting President Donald Trump, who became the only president in American history to be impeached twice by Congress, with “incitement of insurrection.”
Stivers, whose district encompasses much of Athens County, called Trump’s central role in inciting what became a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol Building “unacceptable,” and the representative said that it “contributed to what will be remembered as one of the darkest days in our nation’s history.”
“The result was an attack on our constitutional republic; the peaceful transition of power is a cornerstone of our government,” Stivers said in a statement. “But equally fundamental to the republic is due process, which this snap impeachment process in the House severely undermined by its lack of hearings, presentation of evidence, and committee action. The precedent set by this process is frightening.”
He said that the president “must be held accountable” and subject to the judicial system as a private citizen once out of office.
Last week, Stivers indicated in an interview that he was open to supporting the cabinet invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office in the final days of his term, but he ultimately opposed the idea Tuesday night when pressed for a vote on the matter.
Johnson, whose district brushes up to Athens County, did not release a statement following his vote against impeaching Trump.
In a statement shared Tuesday, Johnson, who contested the certification President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, said that he opposed both invoking the 25th amendment and impeachment for fear of widening the country’s divisions.
“To intentionally further alienate tens of millions of Americans with raw nerves who already feel alienated economically and culturally by America’s political, corporate, academic, and media elites is both reckless and potentially further destabilizing,” he said.
Both Athens County representatives also voted against impeachment in 2019.
The U.S. House of Representatives impeached Trump 232-179, with 10 Republicans voting to charge the president with committing high crimes and misdemeanors, including Northeast Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez.