Portman: Trump’s action’s before Capitol insurgency ‘inexcusable,’ but should he be convicted of impeachment?

Note from Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson: Senator Rob Portman of Ohio was interviewed by CNN’s Dana Bash Sunday, Jan. 31. Bash asked Portman, who last week announced he would not seek reelection in 2022, if then- President Donald Trump’s actions leading up to the Jan. 6 insurgency at the Capitol, were impeachable offenses. The Trump impeachment trial is set to begin Tuesday, Feb. 9 on charges he “willfully inciting violence against the government of the United States.” Portman questions if an impeachment conviction after a president leaves office would be constitutional.

“I have said with regard to the President’s comments that day that they were partly responsible for what happened, for the horrible violence that occurred on Capitol Hill.

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I’ve also said, what he did was wrong and inexcusable.

I’ve used the word inexcusable because that’s how I feel. So, we’ll see.

I’m a juror (in the impeachment trial). I’m going to keep an open mind as we go through this, but I do think that this constitutionality issue has to be addressed.

We would be convicting a private citizen as you know, someone who’s out of office that sets a precedent.

I think all former presidents ― those alive and those not ― could be affected in a negative way.”

Bash asked if not voting to convict Trump would be excusing the former president’s actions. Portman replied:

“It can be inexcusable and yet not be subject to a conviction, after a person has left office.

If you look at the Constitution, there aren’t that many words about impeachment so it’s easy to do and I encourage your viewers to do so, (impeachment is) always connected with removal from office.

This is why the (Chief Justice John Roberts) of the Supreme Court refuses to come and preside over this trial as he did in the last one.

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He says as he looks at the Constitution, he only comes when it’s about removal, which is what impeachment calls for. I think it’s a question we have to discuss.

And we have to, you know, come up with a precedent for the future.”

When asked about news reports that all five members of Trump’s impeachment defense team resigned because the former president wanted to them to argue the election was stolen as a strategy, Portman said:

“Let me just say clearly and I’ve said this as you know since November, there was not adequate irregularities or fraud widespread enough to change the result of the election. Period.

That’s my view. It’s the view by the way of the Trump justice department.

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(Former United States Attorney General) Bill Barr said that before he left office. I think we need to be very clear with the American people, those who voted for Donald Trump and I was a Trump supporter.

I think his policies were better for the country and better for my state.

We have to acknowledge that this election was lost, and we have to move on.

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Joe Biden is now the duly elected President of the United States.

If the argument is not going to be made on issues like constitutionality, which are real issues that need to be addressed, I think it will not benefit the president.”

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Does Senator Portman have it right? Letters are submitted reflections from readers typically of 200 words or less. Letters to the editor can also be sent to edletter@coxinc.com. Include a daytime phone number, your full name and the city in which you reside.