Each of the officials Alabamians elected to represent them in the nation's capital has been clear in their condemnation of last week's attack on the U.S. Capitol, but they remained split on whether the president should be impeached as a result.
The split fell along party lines, with Republicans voting against the impeachment of Donald Trump and Alabama's lone Democratic U.S. Representative voting for it. Most explained their reasons in statements released Wednesday, with U.S. Rep. Barry Moore, R-2nd, even sharing a video of his speech on the House floor.
"There have been no hearings, there have been no committees," Moore told his fellow congressmen. "We must defend the right and protect the process of impeachment. If we pursue this, from now on, from this day forward, impeachment will always be a political process."
U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, who represents Alabama's 4th District, said he understands Democrats wanting to express their anger, but impeachment "is more symbolic than actionable, causes more division and does not advance unity or healing."
He noted U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Senate won't hold a trial until after Trump has already left office. Aderholt further stated it would be in Americans' best interests to focus on cooling tensions and focusing on other challenges, like the COVID-19 pandemic.
"In all sincerity, I do not believe that the impeachment today does anything to move our great constitutional republic forward," Aderholt said Wednesday.
U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer, R-6th, said more needed to be known about the Jan. 6 attack. He voiced concerns over a lack of investigation into who actually instigated the riot and whether or not it was pre-planned.
"The entire American public, regardless of individual political allegiances or views of the President, deserves to know all the facts," Palmer said. "To deny them that will only intensify the distrust of the government."
He said he hopes anyone who participated in any way is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but skipping portions of the impeachment process in a rush to judgment sets a dangerous precedent.
1 vote for
U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-7th, said she voted for the impeachment because Trump incited a violent insurrection with his remarks ahead of the attack. She said it was with "a heavy heart and a lasting, searing memory" of fearing for her life as the mob made its way into the U.S. Capitol.
"The president of the United States incited others to be violent, a mob of insurgencies, in this House," she said. "It's unacceptable. It led to the killing of five Americans. Blood is on this House. We must do something about it."
Among the five deaths Sewell mentioned were an Athens man, Kevin Greeson, whose family said he died of a heart attack on the Capitol grounds "in the midst of the excitement." The other deaths include a woman shot by a police officer while trying to enter the Capitol, two who died of separate medical emergencies and U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick, who died after being hit in the head by a fire extinguisher during the riot.
Quiet in the afternoon
U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, whose district includes Limestone County, was the only one who did not share a public statement before The News Courier's press deadline Wednesday. Records show he voted against the impeachment, but the latest release from his office was a statement in support of the U.S. Space Command choosing Huntsville for its headquarters.
Brooks has remained relatively vocal over the last week, telling people at the rally before the riot that Jan. 6 was the day "American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass." He later said those words were misinterpreted by the "Fake News Media" and that he was trying to inspire the crowd to begin work now for wins in the 2022 and 2024 elections.
After the riot, a resolution to censure Brooks was introduced on the grounds that his remarks incited the mob. In response, Brooks released a nearly 3,000-word statement to his website and social media in which he argued against the allegations.
"I take great offense at anyone who suggests I am so politically inexperienced as to want to torpedo my honest and accurate election system effort I spent months fighting on," he said.
Brooks claimed he couldn't be responsible for inciting anything because people did not immediately leave after his remarks to start the riot and instead stayed to listen to others, including the president, speak at the rally. Furthermore, he said, he didn't know there were extremist or anti-government groups in the crowd.
"For the record, I have never knowingly associated or communicated with any of those groups in my life and I certainly had no inkling any of those groups were a part of the Trump rally at the Ellipse," he wrote. "Perhaps, at some political event, I have had a photo with one, or a five second conversation with another, but, if so, I don't recall and paid no attention to it."
He refused to apologize for his remarks and instead called on "Socialist Democrats and their Fake News Media Allies" to apologize.
The U.S. House of Representatives has voted 232-197 to impeach Trump, making him the first American president in history to be impeached twice. Ten Republicans joined House Democrats in charging him with incitement of insurrection.
However, President-elect Joe Biden is set to be inaugurated in less than a week, making it all but guaranteed Trump's removal from office won't happen before then. McConnell said Wednesday that "there is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week."
"Even in the Senate process were to begin this week and move promptly, no final verdict would be reached until after President Trump had left office," McConnell said. "This is not a decision I am making; it is a fact. The President-elect himself stated last week that his inauguration on January 20 is the 'quickest' path for any change in the occupant of the presidency."
If the trial begins after Jan. 19, when the Senate returns for its next session, Democrats will have majority control. The Constitution requires a two-thirds majority to convict a president, meaning at least 17 Republicans would need to join all 50 Democrats to oust Trump.
If Trump were convicted, it would take only a simple majority of the Senate to prohibit Trump from holding federal office in the future.
—The Associated Press contributed to this report.