Rutherford: Vote to impeach Trump ‘only further divides us’

John Rutherford file photo
John Rutherford file photo (JaxPort)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the House moved to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time in his presidential term, U.S. Rep. John Rutherford said in a statement that he voted against the resolution and that impeaching the country’s 45th president “only further divides us.”

Rutherford, the former Jacksonville sheriff, has spoken strongly against the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol, calling their actions a disgrace. In a statement he shared with News4Jax following Wednesday’s vote, he reaffirmed his stance, but spoke about “extremists” from both major political parties.

Impeachment: Local Representatives' Votes
Impeachment: Local Representatives' Votes

The statement reads:

“Dangerous political rhetoric from extremists on the left and the right divides our nation and threatens the safety of our friends and neighbors. This past year, we saw rioting, looting, and the destruction of cities across America by self-avowed Marxists, anarchists, and left-wing radicals. Last week, our Capitol was raided by anarchists and supporters of President Trump.

“Let me be clear. The blame for loss of life, violence, and property damage falls squarely on the shoulders of those who committed these crimes. Those who stormed the Capitol, caused the death of a police officer, and injured many others must be held accountable for their actions.

“It is past time our country finds our way back together to heal our open wounds. A vote to impeach the president without proper due process and with only seven days left in office only further divides us. For that reason, I voted no. Our community must refocus on the issues that bring us together, like safely rebuilding a strong economy, protecting our First Amendment rights, and standing up for the rule of law.”

RELATED: US House passes 2nd impeachment of Trump after Capitol siege

On Tuesday, an aerial banner was flown over the Interstate 95 corridor that read: “Resign now Rutherford — you betrayed us.”

A group of Jacksonville residents paid $600 to fly the banner. They released a statement explaining the reasoning behind their messages:

“Despite zero evidence of electoral fraud, John Rutherford signed into Trump’s ‘Big Lie’ and helped to incite an insurrection against our government and a violent assault on the very foundations of our democracy.”

Rutherford is among 147 Republican lawmakers who challenged states’ election results during Jan. 6 certification proceedings.

When it comes to the House vote on impeachment, here’s how local lawmakers voted:

As area lawmakers comment on the president’s second impeachment, News4Jax will be adding their comments to the article below.

Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Florida: “Our country needs unity now more than ever. Not only does this move by the liberal Left further divide our nation, it sets a dangerous precedent that subjects the impeachment process to political motivations, rather than serious, thoughtful deliberations. It took Speaker Pelosi six days to draw up this article of impeachment, foregoing the due process that the Constitution outlines. This has become a mockery of our congressional responsibility and it only highlights the Left’s hypocrisy.

”At this very moment, Americans are hurting, both from the events at the U.S. Capitol last week and the COVID-19 pandemic; small businesses are closing, some never to open again, and Americans are filing for unemployment assistance in growing numbers. We must come together and we must find a way to move forward past this difficult time. It is up to us to refocus on the issues our constituents sent us to Washington to address.”

Buddy Carter, R-Georgia: “In 2017, Democrats in Congress objected to more state electoral certifications than Republicans did last week. Since then, they have been pushing their divisive impeachment narrative and already put the country through one impeachment. It is no surprise they will continue through the President’s last day in office. If Washington Democrats were truly interested in reconciliation after the horrific anarchy we witnessed last week, they would focus on it. Instead, they are pursuing impeachment in the closing days of Trump’s presidency to keep the country divided.

“There will be a peaceful transition of power in a few short days, and I am committed to working with the new Administration for all Americans.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, did not immediately issue a statement. He spoke on the House floor during the impeachment hearing.

“The left in America has incited far more political violence than the right for months,” Gaetz said. “Our cities burned. Police stations burned. Our businesses were shattered and they said nothing or they cheer-lead for it. And they fundraised for it, and they allowed it to happen in the greatest country in the world. Now, some have cited, some have cited the metaphor that the president lit the flame. Well they lit actual flames, actual fires!”

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