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‘I think the country deserves better’: Congressman Tom Rice votes to impeach President Trump

Updated: Jan. 13, 2021 at 10:22 PM EST
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WMBF) - A South Carolina lawmaker joined fellow Republicans Wednesday in a vote to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time.

Rep. Tom Rice voted for the historic impeachment after nearly three hours of debate in the chamber. He joined nine other GOP members of the House in voting to impeach the president on charges of “incitement of insurrection.”

It comes exactly one week after a siege of the Capitol while Congress was in the process of certifying votes from the Electoral College. This after a rally held by Trump and his supporters, in which the president addressed the crowd prior to the riot.

“The fact that he gathered up the crowd and fired them up, and whether his speech or manner to incite I don’t know, I’m not a criminal lawyer,” said Rice in an interview with WMBF News. “But I know this, I know that once the people were inside the Capitol ransacking the place and trying to make their way to the Senate floor and House floor and Vice President Pence was in there in the Senate chamber, President Trump was tweeting that Vice President Pence didn’t have the courage to do what was right, and just angering the crowd.”

He also and questioned the President’s actions and what’s being done in the wake of more threats of violence as Inauguration Day nears.

“There’s been all these reports of potential violence in the coming weeks, further action by a vast group of people,” said Rice. “He hasn’t gotten on TV and spoken to the nation and asked for calm. The first time I saw him do that was today when the impeachment vote was about to happen. He put out an address that he didn’t want violence. And I think the reason he did that was because he was watching TV at the White House and he knew we were going to be voting on impeachment.”

In a previous statement Wednesday afternoon, Rice acknowledged that he had backed Trump during his term, but called his recent actions an “utter failure” and “inexcusable.”

Rice’s vote comes as a surprise to many analysts and fellow lawmakers after he initially objected to the electoral college count and also was among those who supported a lawsuit to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. He was also a vocal critic of last year’s impeachment of President Trump.

Rice also said he was actually against bringing the idea of impeachment to the House floor, having voted against time for debate and a vote on the impeachment resolution.

“I wish they had never brought impeachment up,” said Rice. “It’s a divisive thing for the country, but if they’re going to do it then I had to vote ‘yes.’ I think what he [Trump] has done is a complete lack of leadership. I think it’s a failure of leadership and I think the country deserves better.”

The South Carolina GOP released a statement about the impeachment vote and also voiced their disappointment that Rice voted in favor.

Here is the full statement from the SCGOP:

“After refusing to accept the 2016 election results, claiming the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia, then spending an absurd amount of taxpayer dollars on a witch hunt, Democrats have been looking for any excuse to get rid of President Trump ever since he set foot in the Oval Office.

“Trying to impeach the President with just a week left in his term is nothing more than a political stunt. It will do nothing but harm the country and our Party. We completely disagree with this sham and to say I’m severely disappointed in Congressman Tom Rice would be an understatement.”

Rice joined House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn was the only South Carolina lawmakers to vote for impeachment Wednesday while the state’s remaining representatives, all Republicans, voted against impeachment.

The Horry County Democratic Party also released a statement on Rice’s vote, praising him for the decision.

Here is their full statement:

“We have taken issue with Congressman Rice’s positions on major issues over the years, and were discouraged last week when he supported GOP efforts to overturn the presidential election in favor of Trump, but we applaud Mr. Rice for examining his conscience and voting to punish Trump for his unconscionable encouragement of his supporters to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell”. Those words incited the violence that followed and were directly responsible for the attempted insurrection that took place, costing the lives of five individuals, including two police officers.”

“Last week, Rice signed documents that objected to the electoral college votes in five states. He explained that he was supporting the power of the state legislatures to control their own election. But it was that effort by Republicans, encouraged by Trump, that led to the violence on Wednesday, Jan. 6, as Congress was meeting to certify the electoral college votes.”

“We are pleased that the House of Representatives today voted to impeach Trump for his actions. We are committed to supporting President Biden and are hopeful that our nation can begin to heal.”

Trump is now the first president to be impeached twice after the most bipartisan impeachment vote in U.S. history.

Click here to read Rice’s full statement.

Stay with WMBF News for updates.

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