House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated Friday that Republican members of Congress who can be judged to have helped anyone involved in the Capitol incursion could face punishment.
Some Democrats have claimed that prior to the Jan. 6 rioting, Republican members encouraged those who participated in various unproven ways.
“Their accomplices in this House will be held responsible,” Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York said Wednesday, according to The Washington Post.
Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey went a step beyond that to assert without proof that Republicans “had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5 for reconnaissance for the next day.”
She claimed some Republicans “incited this violent crowd.”
Some have gone even further. Democratic Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri has introduced a resolution to remove any members of Congress who voted to overturn the election results and supposedly “incited violence,” Fox News reported.
“I firmly believe that these members are in breach of their sworn oath of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” Bush said. “They must be held accountable.”
“When we’re talking about security, we have to talk about truth and trust. In order to serve here with each other, we must trust that people have respect for their oath of office, respect for this institution. We must trust each other, respecting the people who sent us here. We must also have the truth, and when – and that will be looked into,” she said at her weekly news conference, according to an official transcript of her remarks.
“If, in fact, it is found that members of Congress were accomplices to this insurrection, if they aided and abetted the crime, there may have to be actions taken beyond the Congress in terms of prosecution for that,” Pelosi said.
The speaker added that she might set up a commission to investigate the incident.
“As I said, we really lost our innocence in this because we always prepared to protect and defend from all enemies foreign, but the Constitution also says ‘and domestic.’ And now, we have to protect ourselves from enemies domestic. How close within, the investigation will let us know,” she said.
In an opinion piece in The Washington Post, columnist Henry Olsen, who made it clear he is no fan of Republicans who objected to the Electoral College vote last week, said expulsions would be unjustified.
“[T]he 200-plus year history of congressional expulsions clearly shows that only specific and overt acts of felonious behavior or rejection of the authority of the United States can justify expulsion,” he wrote.
Olsen argued that “voting to sustain the objection is not an endorsement of the riot or a violent overthrow of the U.S. government.”
“One can (wrongly) believe the election was stolen while also believing that democratic remedies are the only appropriate solution. Neither of those beliefs warrants expulsion or censure.”
He noted that supporting what was expected to be a peaceful protest is hardly illegal.
“Even members who supported the march in word or deed before it devolved into a riot should not face the consequences. The march may have been distasteful to many, but so long as it was peaceful, it was perfectly acceptable for Republicans to support it. If doing so weren’t acceptable, then any member who helps to organize a mass rally that is disliked by a super majority of Congress could be at risk of expulsion or censure,” he wrote.
“We cannot have a democracy where minorities are subject to sanction when they legally protest against an existing majority.”
Olsen added that everything changes “if it can be proven that a Republican supported the march with the intent that it turn violent. In that case, the member would not be acting within the bounds of acceptable democratic behavior. He or she would have acted with the intent to cause an insurrection.”
“Those who attempt to overthrow the government through insurrection or violence no longer should be permitted to operate within a democratic body. Their acts, even if they did not come to fruition, would show they cannot loyally discharge their oaths of office and thus cannot sit in Congress.”
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