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McCarthy says he’s willing to look at expunging a Trump impeachment



House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Thursday that he’s willing to take a look at expunging an impeachment of former president Donald Trump by the Democratic-led House.

Trump — now a 2024 candidate — was impeached twice during his four-year presidency: in 2019, for withholding military aid from Ukraine in exchange for political favors, and in 2021, for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

In the previous Congress, groups of Republicans floated resolutions to expunge both impeachments. Supporters of the latter included Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), the Republican conference chairwoman.

Asked at a news conference about the prospect of an expungement now that Republicans control the House, McCarthy said, “I would understand why members would want to bring that forward.”

McCarthy then ticked off other priorities for House Republicans, including the economy and immigration.

“But I understand why individuals want to do it, and we’d look at it,” McCarthy said of expunging impeachments.

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He wasn’t explicit about whether the House might consider expunging one or both impeachments but expressed sympathy for Trump regarding allegations of colluding with Russians in his 2016 campaign and other things Trump “went through.”

Trump was acquitted in Senate trials following both impeachments, but the impeachments by the House remain part of the historical record and an indictment of the former president.

In January 2021, McCarthy said Trump “bears responsibility” for the storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. The rioters ransacked the building and threatened the lives of Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress. The attack resulted in five dead and injuries to 140 members of law enforcement.

“The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” McCarthy said on the House floor on Jan. 13, 2021. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action by President Trump.”

Despite the condemnation, in late January 2021, McCarthy traveled to Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, where the two discussed the GOP’s efforts to retake the House and posed for a photo together. McCarthy had voted against impeaching Trump.

Last week, Trump urged Republicans to back McCarthy’s candidacy for speaker as he struggled for days to win the vote. Trump personally spoke to some GOP defectors.

In the last Congress, Stefanik and then-Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) backed a resolution to expunge Trump’s impeachment over Jan. 6.

“Democrats used their second impeachment resolution to once again weaponize one of the most grave and consequential powers of the House,” Mullin said at the time. “This was never about the Constitution; it was rooted in personal politics.”

Mullin, now a U.S. senator, had sponsored a similar resolution to strike Trump’s first impeachment.

Stefanik, who is No. 4 in House GOP leadership, said last year that the Jan. 6 impeachment was a “sham process.”

“President Donald Trump was rightfully acquitted, and it is past time to expunge Democrats’ sham smear against not only President Trump’s name, but against millions of patriots across the country,” she said.

The Democratic-led House ignored the resolution, which had more than two dozen Republican co-sponsors. But with Republicans in the majority, such a resolution could get a vote.

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2023-01-12 19:32:52

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