Congress member John Katko from Upstate New York is the first republican to say he’ll back the impeachment effort against Donald Trump by the House. The attack on the Capitol led the former federal prosecutor to reverse support for the President.
Katko said in a release that as a prosecutor, he looked at the facts and couldn’t ignore President Trump’s role in the January 6th attack.
"President Trump encouraged this insurrection – both on social media ahead of January 6th, and in his speech that day. By deliberately promoting baseless theories suggesting the election was somehow stolen, the president created a combustible environment of misinformation, disenfranchisement, and division. When this manifested in violent acts on January 6th, he refused to promptly and forcefully call it off, putting countless lives in danger."
Katko added that he felt it his duty, even acknowledging that an impeachment effort might further serve to divide the country and its people.
"We take oaths to defend the Constitution because at times, it needs to be defended. Without the peaceful transfer of power and the acknowledgment of election results, we can't sustain our political system. Congress is tasked with holding the Executive accountable. As the Ranking Member of House Homeland Security Committee, country always comes first. To allow the President of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy. For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action. I will vote to impeach this President."
He noted the disruption of Congress's attempt to certify the election, the death of a Capitol police officer along with dozens of other injuries, as well as extensive vandalism by insurrectionists.
The Congress member endorsed Trump before the election, but weeks ago criticized him for what Katko calls ‘baseless theories of the election being somehow stolen.’ Katko says he does not reach the decision to vote for impeachment lightly, but thought it necessary to defend the Constitution and to make the President face consequences.
No other GOP house member from New York has indicated they'll back impeachment, but representative Tom Reed of the Southern Tier introduced a measure to censure President Trump.