The last few days have been 'absolutely gut-wrenching': Rep. Peter Meijer

Republican Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan is interviewed on "This Week."
7:17 | 01/17/21

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Transcript for The last few days have been 'absolutely gut-wrenching': Rep. Peter Meijer
Let's bring in congressman meijer. One of ten Republicans who voted for impeachment. Thanks for joining us this morning. First of all, let me get to that last point I had with congressman Castro. Do you have any evidence that any of your colleagues or congressional staff may have been accomplices in some way? Thank you, George. I have not seen any evidence of that so far. I think it's important that we don't jump to conclusions and we don't get ahead of process. We let feelings get ahead of the facts. If anyone was responsible or participated, they should be held to the fullest extent of the law and we can talk about those remedial processes later, but it's important we don't jump to conclusions. In the wake of the capitol siege, you called this the worst week of your life. You voted for impeachment. I read that you and some of your colleagues may also be buying body armor to protect yourselves. What have the last few days been like? Absolutely gut-wrenching. Impeaching a president, especially a president of my own party was nothing we ever hope to do. Many of us deliberated deeply. This was not as easy as just saying what is in our best political interest, but frankly looking at the evidence, looking at the facts of the case, reading the article and then asking, is this true by our own experience, by our lived experience, and it was. I think this is a time for reflection, but it's also a time for accountability, and that's something that I am deeply committed to, you know, I'm calling on my party to restore trust, to restore the trust of the voting public and to ensure that we never allow the actions that led up to January 6th and what happened on January 6th. We never allow that outburst of political violence to occur in our name again. How do you explain why so few of your Republican colleagues agreed with you on impeachment, why so many joined those objections the elections had propagated about those false allegations of voter fraud? You know, I can't speak to what's in anyone else's hearts. I know I've talked with many of my colleagues, asked them, you know, and compared where we were on various issues. Many of them arrived at their decisions, I think in an honest and forthright way, specifically when it came to, you know, the objections to certifying the electoral college or, you know, or to challenge the election. It's not of what one individual was. What happens when all of those concerns become a collective, and the narrative becomes something that could be very powerful, you know, that's what we saw with the stop the steal argument after November 3rd. It was individual concerns about electoral integrity building to something that ended up supporting the president's, you know, false idea that he had won in a landslide, and then that was what inspired his followers to come out on January 6th. That was the message he was propagating, but we need to make sure we move away from a politics of deception. We have to make sure we have leaders who are telling folks who trust them what they need to hear, not just what they want to hear. And because of those claims, you've even said that your vote to impeach because the president still has such a strong hold on the Republican party, and so many believe what he said about the election, you say your vote might have been political suicide. That caught the attention of one of the president's advisers, Jason Miller who retweeted it as well. Are you concerned you ended your career with that vote? Oh, I may very well have, but I think it's also important that we have elected leaders who are not thinking solely about what's in their individual self-interest. Not what is going to be politically expedient, but what we actually need for country. It's not lost on me that I hold the seat that Gerald Ford held from 1948, to 1973. He created a courageous act when he pardoned Richard Nixon, but it ended his career going forward. I obviously don't want to follow in the footsteps in terms of the next election, but I want to make sure that we have leaders in office who are folks saying, the fact we are a nation of laws, not men, and putting interest of the country first rather than our own political careers. Liz Cheney also voted for impeachment and called this the greatest betrayal of a president in recent history. She's facing pushback from your Republican colleagues who want to remove her from leadership. Will that happen? You know, we're -- we're going to do everything we can to make sure those that stood by their principles, like Liz Cheney, that that is not something that is punished. I know there is a division that has already occurred. We need to address some of the issues that we have within, you know, the congressional Republican conference, but I have been very impressed by the leadership that Liz Cheney has shown. We differ on many issues, but in terms of somebody who is putting the best interest of the country forward, she has demonstrated that in her actions over the past two weeks. Is it time for the Republican party to move on from president trump? I think it's time that we acknowledge that what happened on January 6th was a betrayal of what had been accomplished over the last four years, that it was a culmination of a politics that all too often, you know, fanned flames rather than focusing on building and governing, you know, the president brought some necessary energy. He brought some necessary ideas. He shook the tree. He was a change agent. The challenge was he didn't know when to stop, and he didn't draw a line, and to me, political violence is the line that we must draw. We've seen that outgrowth on my side of the aisle, but that's something that has become all too common, the threats, intimidation, violence more broadly. You know, this all goes back to the fact that too many Americans don't trust institutions, don't trust the process that we have from the civil and legal side to resolve their disputes. So while I think we need to move past, you know, those events and we need to have accountability first and foremost, we also need to commit to resolving our differences through legal processes. We need to build through that confidence in the public that they don't need to take to the streets. They don't need to take to violence to make their voice heard. That's how we're going to get through this as a country and get back to focusing on what matters. What's the most important thing president Biden can do to heal that divide? I think he can have an open and honest and transparent discussion. I think it's incumbent on both parties to ensure that they are not promoting folks within their ranks who are engaged in a politics of deception, but rather having open, thoughtful, honest, engaged conversations. I hope that president Biden will do the same, that he will not give in to some of the more, you know, some of the lower impulses that folks in the Progressive wing may try to bring out, but rather say that this is a time for the country to focus on rebuilding. This is a time for the country to focus on rebuilding trust, rebuilding our institutions, rebuilding governance. We need to get through the pandemic. Thank you for your time this morning.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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