U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, said there is “no reason” to impeach President Trump and maintained it’s unconstitutional to impeach a former president.
Trump’s second impeachment trial is due to start Tuesday in the Senate.
“This is not a good thing to do. There’s no reason to do this, and we shouldn’t do it,” Johnson said in an interview aired Sunday on “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.
In their case against Trump, Democrats contend he is responsible for the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6 by telling his supporters to “fight like hell” against the certification of President Biden’s election victory. A mob of his supporters broke into the Capitol that day, and five people died in the violence.
Johnson also argued that going ahead with impeachment would not heal the nation.
“President Biden, in his inaugural address, talked about healing, talked about unifying this country. Is the impeachment trial of a former president, is that healing? Is that going to unify? I would argue no, it’s very vindictive, it’s very divisive, and we need to heal. We need to come together. We have enormous challenges facing this nation and the impeachment trial of a former president is not part of the solution,” Johnson said.
Program host Adrienne Pedersen pointed out the Democrats’ argument that a conviction would bar Trump from holding federal public office again.
Johnson said that would “pre-emptively” disenfranchise voters.
“Whether or not President Trump runs again for office should be a decision that President Trump makes, and whether or not he would be successful at it would be decided by the voters,” Johnson said.
“Couldn’t then a president just do whatever he or she wanted at the end of their term and not have consequences if you can’t go ahead with a trial of someone who is out of office?” Pedersen asked.
“If he has some legal liability, charges can be brought up in the justice system,” Johnson said. “But an impeachment is an impeachment of a sitting president, an impeachment trial, and I just don’t believe that’s constitutional.”
Johnson also said he opposes President Biden’s $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Act” that Democrats appear poised to muscle through the Senate without Republican support.
Johnson said hundreds of millions of dollars from a previous COVID-19 relief package remain unspent or unobligated.
“Listen, when you spend trillions of dollars, it will go to help people, no doubt about it. But we don’t have an unlimited checking account and we’re not being careful at all, we’re not doing oversight, we’re not stopping and considering, is there a better way of doing this?” Johnson said.
“That’s why I’m basically opposed to the $1.9 trillion. I think it’s very unwise. This is dangerous territory, but very few people are really concerned about it. I am concerned about it,” Johnson said.
Also on the program, infectious disease specialist Ajay Sethi, associate professor of Population Health Sciences at UW-Madison, said the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations in Wisconsin has picked up in recent weeks.
“Since that initial period, Wisconsin has actually had a good couple of weeks, and I would say we’re sort of in the middle of the pack as far as the U.S. goes, and comparing our state with similarly sized states like Maryland, Colorado and Minnesota, we’re actually doing quite well,” Sethi said.
Sethi also said the emergence of COVID-19 variants is concerning, and the state and country are “not doing nearly as much surveillance as we need to be to detect these new COVID variants that are existing and circulating in our state.”
He said a variant could become the dominant strain of COVID-19 and “we need to get people protected before this new variant sort of takes over the spread of COVID in the state.”
See more from the program, and the full 17-minute interview with Sen. Ron Johnson: