Rep. Brian Mast criticized President Donald Trump’s lack of leadership as protests turned to riots last week. But the Stuart Republican said he won’t support impeaching the President and does not support demanding the Cabinet remove him.
Mast, A Republican representing Florida’s 18th Congressional District in Port St. Lucie, released a lengthy statement late Tuesday decrying the Capitol riots. But he also supported Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to reject invocation of the 25th Amendment to expel Trump from office. Looking toward an impeachment vote on Wednesday, Mast expressed concern at the move.
“As to the issue of removing President Trump from office, I agree with Vice President Pence that these consequential tools — the 25th Amendment and impeachment — are not a means of “punishment or usurpation” but require very specific thresholds to be met,” Mast said.
“In the case of the 25th Amendment, the standard is that the President is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,’ and in the case of impeachment that standard is ‘Treason, Bribery or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.’”
Mast made clear his frustration at Trump’s actions Wednesday, including a rally at the White House where the President encouraged supporters to go to the Capitol where President-elect Joe Biden’s victory was being certified when Trump said, “we’re not going to let it happen.”
Mast expressed greater concern that at the same event, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani called for a “trial by combat.”
“While I believe allowing the violence-inciting comments by Rudy Giuliani to go unchecked demonstrated a serious lack of leadership, I do not believe this conduct rises to the standard necessary for invoking the 25th Amendment or impeachment,” Mast said.
“I also agree with Vice President Pence that these actions by Congress threaten to further divide and inflame our nation at a time when all of us — Republicans and Democrats — should be attempting to lower the temperature.”
Mast condemned violence last week, that disrupted the certification proceedings and forced Mast and other members of Congress into lockdown for hours.
“There are not enough angry words in the English language to adequately condemn the violent attack on the Capitol, and in turn our democracy, on January 6th,” Mast said.
“The right to peacefully assemble is an essential part of our Constitution — one that is frequently exercised in Washington, D.C. by groups on both sides of political issues — but the moment that barricades were torn down, police officers were assaulted and our Capitol was laid siege to, the Constitutionally-protected assembly became wholly un-American, wholly un-Constitutional and wholly illegal. Each and every perpetrator of this crime must be held accountable and should turn themselves in.”
Still, Mast was among a dozen Florida Representatives to against certifying electors in two states Biden won, even after the riots prompted most Senators to drop any involvement in the challenges.
Now, Mast wants a peaceful transition to a Biden administration.
“Regardless of the actions taken by Congress today, however, former Vice President Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States and will take office in just a few days’ time,” Mast said. “I will undoubtedly disagree with him numerous times in the years to come, and when I do, I will say so loudly. Then, we will vote, and at no point will the policy of this nation be set by any who attempt to force their will violently.”