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Rep. Tom Reed on President Trump’s future in the Republican Party

Democrats are nearly unanimous in their decision to impeach President Trump a second time, while Republicans are split about the path forward. Republican Rep. Tom Reed of New York says the House should censure the president but not pursue impeachment at this time. Reed is also the co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, and he joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, as you just are hearing, Democrats are nearly unanimous in their decision to impeach President Trump a second time.

    The question is, what about Republicans?

    Congressman Tom Reed of New York is, among other things, the co-chair of the Problems Solvers Caucus, and he joins me now.

    Congressman Reed, thank you very much for joining us.

    Where do things stand right now? We are hearing there are at least two Republican House members who say they will vote to impeach, Congressman Katko of New York, Congresswoman Cheney of Wyoming, and I'm hearing — and, of course, Congressman Kinzinger, who had already said he would vote to impeach.

    Where are you on this?

  • Rep. Tom Reed:

    Well, thank you for having me on, Judy.

    And I am adamantly opposed to impeachment. And I issued an op-ed. New York Times wrote about it — or picked it up.

    But this is a very concerning time for our country. And this is not just about the events of January 6. This is also about our Constitution and what impeachment means in regards to when someone is impeached and what that means to the institution of Congress, the institution of the executive branch.

    But, also, we have constitutional free speech issues that are involved here that need to be vetted. And snap impeachment, to me, is something that is a rush to judgment. We need those investigations. And that's why I'm offering an alternative path in regards to censure as an appropriate remedy at this point in time, and then continue down this path to see whatever accountable measures need to be deployed, if any.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, what about the comments by other Republicans in the House, like Congresswoman Cheney, who say, because of the president's direct role in encouraging and inciting what happened at the Capitol, he should be removed?

  • Tom Reed:

    You know, I do respect all my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I think I have demonstrated, I hope, to my colleagues, as well as to the country, in our involvement over the years of being a proud Republican, but working with proud Democrats, and having those dialogues, and especially on matters of conscience.

    And I think my colleague Liz Cheney mentioned that this is a vote of conscience. This is about the Constitution. This one of those deep votes that we have to really reflect upon.

    And so I respect her conclusion, but I obviously disagree with it. And it's based on my read of the Constitution, my oath to the Constitution, and also the snap impeachment of what it will do to future impeachments, what it will do to our due process rights. What will it do to our constitutional free speech rights?

    That even deplorable comments still have to be looked at in regards to the protections the Constitution provides for free speech.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Are you surprised at the reporting that the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, is now in favor of impeaching the president?

  • Tom Reed:

    You know, I have seen these reports, and I have not seen commentary directly from Mitch McConnell.

    And I think that is also the frenzy. And I try to be a reasoned member of Congress. I try to take a deep breath and only comment on the things that I know firsthand or the evidence that's been presented to me. And I think these reports on the majority leader are coming from aides and other folks and things like that.

    And rather than comment on news reports, especially at this critical time in our country's history, I try to take a measured response and let Mitch McConnell speak for themself, let Liz Cheney speak for themselves, and, most importantly, try to listen and talk with the American people.

    Now is the time to unite the country. Now is the time to calm the country, not add the flames of division, not add to further commentary, and especially commentary that may be misreported, that may be erroneous. So, I will let each member speak for themselves.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And I know a lot of people certainly agree with you about uniting the country.

    I do want to ask you, though. There are reports that, among House Republicans, your leadership is not lobbying members to oppose impeachment. What directions are you getting for the leadership of the party in the House?

  • Tom Reed:

    You know, we had a lengthy conversation the other day as a — with a conference meeting.

    And just — I think they recognize — and rightfully so — this is a vote of conscience. This is a vote based on constitutional principles. And when it comes to that, in the Republican Party that I believe in, that is something I respect.

    We are proud Republicans. We are proud of our belief structure, and we have the ability to respect our colleagues in regards to the issues they take conclusions based on their conscience.

    Now, to colleagues that may be thinking, well, how do I use this for political advantage, and, as I said on the issue on the Electoral College vote to my colleagues, if you're playing politics with this, now is not the time for this. This is a time to rise.

    This is the time to lead the American people and win and guide the American people, not with political calculations, but what is right, based on the Constitution and your heart and your conscience.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    I hear you speaking about censure, Congressman.

    What do you believe President Trump's future should be in the Republican Party?

  • Tom Reed:

    You know, I think a lot is going to depend on how we get between now and January 20.

    I think we will have to keep a very close eye on it. But the future in the Republican Party, with President Trump, I think the ideas and policies that he has inspired is something that we're going to have continuation of a debate and be part of.

    But I think what we really have to keep an eye on is, how do we get between now and the 20th to see where that legacy goes? But I think, at the end of the day, I just encourage the president.

    And, remember, I was one of the first eight to endorse him. I know him as an individual. And I encourage him, at this point in time, get us through a peaceful transition to the 20th. No more violence. Lower the temperature, not rise it.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Excuse me.

    Are you saying you're — it's important to watch what happens between now and the 20th because you're concerned that he may do something?

  • Tom Reed:

    Oh, I think he has the ability to obviously influence millions of Americans.

    And so I think we're all very sensitive. And we're getting reports of additional violence potentially that's coming out. We're getting FBI reports. You have seen public reports on that.

    And I think it's important just to see how everyone reacts right now. And that's why I'm also opposed to snap impeachment, because I believe that's going to add to the potential incitement of violence, that people respond to that because we're rushing to this judgment.

    And so I encourage people, both sides of the aisle, all colleagues, now is not the time to raise temperature. Now is the time to lower temperature in America and try to unite the country.

    And, obviously, what the president does between now and the 20th is a very important piece of time to judge what future role he will have in the Republican Party, if any.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, just in a quick sentence, what do you want the president right now to say to the American people, if anything?

  • Tom Reed:

    I would hope the president would reaffirm his commitment to a peaceful transfer of power to president-elect Biden becoming President Biden on the 20th and to lower the temperature.

    Everyone needs to lower the temperature, and do not encourage any type of additional violence.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Representative Tom Reed of New York, we thank you very much for joining us.

  • Tom Reed:

    Thank you, Judy.

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