Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) argued against the impeachment of President Donald Trump during a debate in the House of Representatives today, before voting against adoption of an article of impeachment charging the President with “incitement of insurrection.”

His remarks during the debate on the House floor and a video of his statement appear below.

House members voted 232 to 197 to impeach the President, with 10 Republicans joining 222 Democrats to approve the article of impeachment.

With the House action this afternoon, Trump became the first President in U.S. history to be impeached twice. He is only the third President to be impeached, following Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Trump was impeached for the first time in December 2019.

Impeachment of a president is a political process provided in the Constitution. Articles of impeachment are akin to an indictment, leveling charges against the impeached party. The Constitution requires the Senate to conduct a trial. If convicted in the Senate, a President is removed from office.

Following today’s impeachment, there will be no trial in the Senate until after the President’s term has expired on Jan. 20, but if convicted under the article of impeachment passed today, Trump could be disqualified from ever holding elective office again.

Zeldin, a staunch and vocal supporter of the President, last week voted against certifying the election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania. The votes were taken after a violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol while the House and Senate were in session, debating the validity of the Arizona results.

The Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol resulted in the beating death of a Capitol police officer and one of the rioters, who was shot by police. Numerous other people, including more than a dozen police officers, were injured.

The First District congressman spoke for three minutes during the House debate today.

Zeldin’s remarks during impeachment debate

“Thank you, Madam Speaker. I’m sickened and angered by what we all had to witness last Wednesday, and call for the investigation and prosecution to the fullest extent of the law every single person who participated in the violence and loss of life in this Capitol Building last Wednesday.

“I, as a member, sit here listening to the entire debate, desperately need to better understand the two standards that are at play in this house. Why is it okay if a House Democrat calls for violence in the streets, but not if you’re a Republican? Why can a House Democrat be rewarded with a gavel and a chairmanship if they’re calling for physical confrontation of a Trump administration official but they will be punished if they’re a Republican. The double standards that we have seen time and time again, we all — I need to better understand what the rules are of this House. Why is it that a committee chairman can lie to the American public about having more than circumstantial evidence that the President colluded with the Russians in order to win the 2016 election? But of course, the Republicans can’t and wouldn’t lie to the American public about something like that. We need to better understand what these two standards are that are at play and to complete the record, because the House Democrats are here to make President Trump the first president to be impeached twice.

“So I’ll complete the record. First off, in the Articles of Impeachment, it’s written that the President gave a speech and he told his supporters to come here and that he incited this riot and one speaker after another after another here on the other side of the aisle, have repeated that in the Article of Impeachment. But we all know that this was a pre-planned attack. We all know that there were pipe bombs being discovered while the President was speaking. We all know that the Capitol perimeter was being breached during the President’s speech. We know that this was pre-planned and it started while the President was speaking. Why is that not in the Articles of Impeachment? Why is that not incorporated into my colleagues’ remarks?

“To complete the record, if you want to make the President the first president to be impeached twice, we’ll add something else today. Thank you to the President for his efforts to defeat MS-13 in my district, or to withdraw from — Thank you to the President for his efforts to move the embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and to take out Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and Qasem Soleimani, to eliminate the ISIS Caliphate, to enter into the historic Abraham accords, to have an economy this time last year that was stronger than I ever remember in my entire lifetime. Yeah, we’ll complete the record. And in all fairness, as the President leaves one week from today, let’s be honest about the double standards that exist inside of this chamber. And let’s also be honest that this President did a lot to make America greater than ever.”

We need your help.
Now more than ever, the survival of quality local journalism depends on your support. Our community faces unprecedented economic disruption, and the future of many small businesses are under threat, including our own. It takes time and resources to provide this service. We are a small family-owned operation, and we will do everything in our power to keep it going. But today more than ever before, we will depend on your support to continue. Support RiverheadLOCAL today. You rely on us to stay informed and we depend on you to make our work possible.

SHARE
Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.