While a number of Republicans are distancing themselves from President Donald Trump for inflaming a mob that went on to attack the Capitol – leaving a police officer and four others dead – state GOP leader Steve Pearce is standing by him.
And Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-N.M., is defending her objection to the electoral vote in several states, an objection that in some ways echoed what the rioters were demanding as they stormed the U.S. Capitol building.
Herrell said in an interview Monday that her objection on the House floor last week wasn’t intended to overturn the results, just to call attention to voting practices in several states, not including New Mexico.
She said that she is preparing to work with President-elect Joe Biden’s administration and that it’s time to unify the country.
House Democrats on Monday took a two-pronged approach to try to remove Trump from office before his term ends next week. They attempted a resolution to call on the vice president to use the Cabinet to remove the president using the 25th Amendment. And they introduced articles of impeachment against Trump for “inciting violence against the Government of the United States.”
Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández, D-N.M., said Trump is unfit to hold office and should be removed.
“President Trump and his enablers incited a mob of domestic terrorists who attacked our country. To move forward as a Nation, we must hold the president accountable for fueling this assault on our sacred democratic institutions,” she said in a statement. “I hope my House Republican colleagues put country above party (Tuesday) and join us to pass a resolution calling on the Vice President to remove Donald Trump from office.”
Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., couldn’t be reached for comment.
The impeachment charge relates to Wednesday’s riot when pro-Trump extremists, whom the president had encouraged in a speech and on social media, stormed the U.S. Capitol building while a joint session was being held to certify the Electoral College victory for Biden. Herrell was one of dozens of Republican lawmakers who objected to the votes during that session.
Those objections have been widely criticized by Democrats, as well as some Republican lawmakers.
Herrell said her objection to the Electoral College vote – Biden won 306-232 – was an attempt to raise concerns about the voting process in several states, including Pennsylvania.
In that state, the governor and Supreme Court changed some election rules to assist voters during the pandemic without the Legislature’s approval.
“In New Mexico, the elections followed state statute, followed the Constitution, so New Mexico was never a state that was going to have an objection raised,” Herrell said. “Other states had constitutional questions.”
The Trump campaign did challenge New Mexico’s election results in a lawsuit against Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver. The lawsuit said she overstepped her authority by authorizing the use of ballot drop boxes amid the coronavirus pandemic. But the campaign withdrew its suit Monday.
Herrell said it’s time to unify the country and not to try to impeach Trump.
“I wish there weren’t articles of impeachment being considered right now,” Herrell said. “I feel the way we bring the nation together is to put unity first. … I just feel like this is going to fan the flames a little bit and is obviously not something I’m in support of.”
Pearce remains a Trump supporter
While the Republican party is split on what to do about Trump during his administration’s final days, Pearce remains a strong supporter.
“God bless President Donald J. Trump. He will be our President FOREVER and no one can take that away from us,” Pearce’s Twitter feed proclaimed.
Mike Curtis, a spokesman for the Republican Party of New Mexico, said the Saturday tweet, which was taken down on Monday, wasn’t authorized by party officials or Pearce, who was out of town and didn’t send the tweet. But Curtis said Pearce still strongly supports the outgoing president.
“Steve Pearce feels strongly about Trump and he supports President Trump, but that tweet gave the wrong impression,” Curtis said.
For weeks, Pearce has been using his radio show, “Inside New Mexico,” to push back against Biden’s victory. He has spoken at length about unproven claims that Democrats purchased unused ballots and, for days, submitted them in states where the vote was close after the November election, and that voting machines were deleting Trump votes or switching them to votes for Biden.
Some in GOP support Herrell
While some Republicans were critical of their peers like Herrell who objected to the election results – there was no evidence of voter fraud or that the changes in election rules in some states affected the outcome – Herrell was supported by New Mexico Republican leaders.
“What Rep. Herrell did … was within the rules and within her authority. She didn’t break the rules,” said state Rep. James Townsend, R-Artesia, the House minority leader. “It might not have aligned with some beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that it was wrong.”
Herrell said that she’s heard from many of her constituents in southern New Mexico who expressed their support for her objection.
But Herrell said she hopes Republicans are done objecting to Biden’s victory.
“We will have a new president in office on the 20th,” she said. “It’s time to get ready to work with a Biden administration.”