After an insurrection in the US Capitol and the second impeachment hearings for President Donald Trump, it’s a fraught time for the GOP. WHQR spoke with Republican Congressman David Rouzer, who represents North Carolina’s 7th district, including Wilmington, to discuss the recent violence, the impeachment, and what the future holds for Trump’s legacy and his party.
You can listen to the complete, unedited interview below. A transcript of that interview can be found at the end of this article.
Congressman Rouzer has joined colleagues on both sides of the aisle in denouncing the violence of January Sixth, calling it thuggery. And while he supported President Trump’s challenge to the electoral process, he expressed disappointment in the President’s language.
“I think it would have been prudent to tell his supporters, you know, moving forward that, you know, our legal remedies that we sought, although I don't agree with them, you know, those have been tossed. The states have tallied their electoral college slates.”
Rouzer adds he wishes the President had addressed Biden’s victory, saying something like: “I accept it and look forward to a peaceful transition of power to President Biden and his administration. I think that would have been a much better tone, much more appropriate and much more based in the reality of the facts of the point in time.”
But Rouzer stops short of holding the President directly responsible. Instead, the Congressman says he believes the event was preplanned, apparently by white supremacists, and that violence could have occurred regardless of Trump’s language on they day of the rally.
“No matter what the message was, I'm not sure it would have deterred that. I think there I think there's a deep-seated anger and distrust. And because keep in mind, they weren't just coming for Speaker Pelosi and, you know, those that were violent and criminal, they weren't just coming for the speaker, they were coming for me, they were coming for my Republican colleagues, they were coming for all of us, it didn't matter.”
Rouzer argues that Trump’s repeated false claim that the election had been stolen was reflective of what a significant minority of the public believes, citing a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll. (You can find some nuance from Poynter's PolitiFact on what the poll did, and didn't say, here). He says his own concerns, which he pursued in objections to certifying Arizona and Pennsylvania electoral votes, even after the insurrection, were focused on Constitutional issues.
“There's nobody in the Capitol Complex, no elected office holder, who believed we were anywhere remotely close to overturning an election. In fact, that wasn't even the prime motive. The motive of this was to highlight the states that were in question.”
It’s worth noting that the courts, including the United States Supreme Court, have rejected or dismissed 61 suits from Trump and his associates, who won only one minor victory in Pennsylvania that didn’t significantly impact the vote count. Rouzer attributes this losing record not to a lack of legitimate concerns, but to sub-par legal counsel.
“But I can totally understand Republican judges and Democrat judges alike, looking at a shoddily crafted suit, with misspelled words, you know, suits that aren't even becoming of an intern in a law firm -- I can understand why they were tossed.”
So, what next? Rouzer says he’s not in favor of impeachment, saying he feels the process is being rushed, and because he feels the divisiveness of the hearings will delay or derail Congress’ ability to get back on track.
Asked if there’s anything Congress can move forward on in the coming session, Rouzer suggested infrastructure.
“So all those things, as part of the major infrastructure initiative, should attract, if done appropriately, should attract a significant amount of bipartisan support, and would be an excellent way to begin to move forward, and help to re-instill in the American public confidence that, you know, Congress can do things.”
As for the legacy of President Donald Trump, Rouzer defended the administration’s record but acknowledged the impact last week’s violence will undoubtedly have.
“So many successes in so many ways, and yet it's all stained by January the Sixth. It really is a modern day political tragedy.”
For WHQR, I’m Ben Schachtman.