State lawmakers voiced their opinions about the U.S. House action to impeach President Donald Trump for his role in the riot at the Capitol last week that left five dead.
Trump became the only president to be impeached twice after the House voted 232-197 Wednesday for inciting insurrection related to the attack based on comments from his speech prior to supporters storming the Capitol.
The McAlester News-Capital spoke with District 7 State Sen. Warren Hamilton, R-McCurtain, District 15 State Rep. Randy Randleman, R-Eufaula, District 18 State Rep. David Smith, R-Arpelar, and District 17 State Rep. Jim Grego, R-Wilburton, about the attack, Trump’s impeachment, and whether they believe he incited the deadly riot.
“It’s a lie,” Hamilton said of accusations Trump incited the riot. “President Trump was peaceful.”
Hamilton said he had seen clips, but had not seen the entirety of Trump’s Jan. 6 speech in which he calls on supporters to be strong, march to the Capitol, and take the country back.
A president can’t be removed from office until the House votes to impeach, then the Senate votes to convict. If things go as scheduled, Trump will be out of office anyway on Jan. 20, when Joe Biden is set to be inaugurated as president.
“They won’t get it done by the 20th, so what’s the point?” Grego said.
“At this point in the game, he’s almost out,” Smith said. “I don’t think he told the people to storm the Capitol. Why should he be held responsible for somebody’ else’s actions?”
Trump and many others continue repeating unproven claims of election fraud that reignited political tensions nationwide in November.
States individually certified election results, with Joe Biden receiving 306 electoral votes to win over 232 for President Donald Trump.
Thirty-nine Republican state lawmakers signed a letter in December calling on the U.S. Congress to challenge the certification of the 2020 presidential election results on Jan. 6 during the certification process known as a formality. Hamilton, Randleman, and Smith signed the letter.
The letters accuse some states of not holding constitutional elections — a claim made by Trump and his supporters in dozens of failed legal challenges.
Grego did not sign the letter, but said he contacted Oklahoma’s Congressional delegation to urge the U.S. Congress “to verify this was fair and square.”
“What got my attention was some of those states, it was four or five days,” he said, referring to the wait for complete election results from some of the swing states. “In Oklahoma, we had ours counted that night or the next morning,” Grego said of the state’s tabulation of election results.
“I’m not accusing anybody of fraud, but this could affect future elections,” Grego said. We need to know the tallies are right, he said.
Congress certified the election results Jan. 6, but after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol that left five dead. Bipartisan lawmakers have condemned the violence and law enforcement agencies have announced arrests of people involved in the attack.
“That’s not at all the kind of people that we want to be,” Hamilton said of the mob. “That’s not the kind of people that the overwhelming majority are like.
“You’ve got to know that when you breach Capitol security you’re not doing anything good for anybody,” Hamilton said. “It’s looks bad on the roughly 1 million people who peacefully assembled.”
Political tensions boiled over to the House voting Wednesday to impeach Trump.
“I think the impeachment is ridiculous,” Randleman said. “It doesn’t show that the Democrats are trying to work in collaboration with Republicans and how everybody is calling for unity. They’ve stayed at him for four years. I don’t see how the man has done as well as what he has in our presidency with all the abuse and things that they’ve done with him for four years.”
Randleman said federal lawmakers aren’t working together and he hopes that changes.
“Our job is to meet somewhere in the middle, that everybody is happy,” Randleman said. “My job is to do that and to make everybody in the state of Oklahoma and in my district feel like I’m supporting them. That’s what I would love to see out of our federal government and that’s not what’s happening.”
State lawmakers also still voiced distrust in the election process.
“Well, there was just a lot of things,” Smith said. “I wouldn’t care if it was a Republican or Democrat. To me, it sounded fraudulent. I don’t care which way it goes, to me it’s what this country was founded on.”
“I do believe that there was widespread fraud; I think that there are some people that have done some shady things,” Hamilton said. “But notice everything I’ve said is that these are things that I think, not things that I know. That being the case, until we go from ‘I think’ to ‘I know’ then we’re going to let the process play itself out.”
The Supreme Court rejected the Trump legal team’s challenge of the election results on Jan. 11, also denying expedition of consideration of Trump’s challenges in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Legal challenges to the elections in Michigan and Georgia were also denied, as were dozens of other attempts to overturn the election results.
Randleman said he believed mail-in voting promotes fraud.
‘‘Since that was done, mainly in the main states and not in other states, that kind of tells you something’s not right either,” said Randleman.
“I believe we have freedom of speech; we have rights to do peaceful protests and I want to see that,” Randleman said.
When asked to point to any proof of the election fraud allegations, Hamilton pointed to the quick dismissal of the challenges.
“The evidence that there is something that went on; the evidence is that we didn’t hear the evidence,” Hamilton said.
He said he believes the 18 attorneys general — including Oklahoma AG Mike Hunter — had evidence to sign with Texas AG Ken Paxton on a legal challenge of the election.
That challenge was dismissed Dec. 11. Nobody has proven evidence of widespread election fraud.