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‘We’re Just Glad It’s Over’: Hyde-Smith to Attend Biden Inauguration After Voting for ‘Coup’

Cindy Hyde-Smith speaking
U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., seen here at an October 2018 campaign event in Clinton, Miss., refused to comment on calls for President Trump's impeachment. Photo by Ashton Pittman.

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith plans to attend President-elect Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration despite voting last week to overturn the election results in two key swing states mere hours after a pro-Trump insurrectionist mob stormed the U.S. Capitol.

The Republican senator acknowledged Biden’s victory for the first time yesterday when WAPT Reporter Ross Adams questioned her during a visit to Bolton, Miss.

“Do you think the president should be impeached?” the reporter asked Hyde-Smith.

“We’ve got 10 days left. Let’s get through the 10 days,” said Hyde-Smith, whose unwavering support for Donald Trump was her top campaign message in 2020 and in her 2018 special election. “He will leave office and let’s get on with things.”

Adams persisted, though, as Hyde-Smith hurried away.

“Do you think he should resign early? … There are a lot of people who believe you should be punished for your role because you voted for the objection even after the insurrection,” the reporter said, following the Republican senator to the parking lot.

“We’re just glad it’s over. President Biden’s going to be President Biden. … He is going to be sworn on January 20. I will be at the inauguration,” Hyde-Smith said.

When Adams asked why she objected to certifying the election results for Florida and Pennsylvania on Jan. 6 but now acknowledges Biden won the election, Hyde-Smith said she did so “because I’m representing my state and the people that sent me to D.C.” 

Though Hyde-Smith won a majority of Mississippi voters in 2018 and 2020, her former Democratic opponent, Mike Espy, won 46% in the special election and 44% last year, making her two campaigns some of the most competitive U.S. Senate elections in Mississippi in decades.

Hyde-Smith Cited False Election Claims

As Hyde-Smith voted against certifying the election results on Jan. 6, she said in a statement that she and her “constituents” were “alarmed with the erosion of integrity of the electoral process” and that her voters “do not believe the presidential election was constitutional and cannot accept the Electoral College decision.”

Mississippi’s junior senator was repeating the same false conspiracy theories that Trump and other Republican members of the U.S. House and Senate used to inflame the president’s supporters, inciting last week’s violent insurrection. Neither Trump nor his Republican backers have produced evidence of electoral fraud or made specific claims about electoral irregularities that would have changed the outcome of the election.

In a speech to thousands of supporters who had gathered in Washington, D.C., on the morning of Jan. 6 ostensibly to protest the certification of the 2020 election results, Trump falsely claimed the election had been “rigged” by “radical Democrats” and the “fake news media.” 

“And after this, we’re going to walk down there, and I’ll be there with you. … Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong,” Trump told the crowd.

Thousands of Trump supporters converged on the U.S. Capitol at Trump’s urging on Jan. 6, where an insurrectionist mob stormed the building in a violent attempt to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Photo by Blink O’Fanaye

“We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough. We’re not going to take it anymore. … Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy,” the president told his faithful followers.

Hours later, Trump watched the scenes of calamity unfold from the comfort of the Oval Office as supporters carrying Trump flags and Confederate flags scaled walls, broke windows, rammed doors and rampaged throughout the Capitol building, looting offices and violently clashing with Capitol Police, even as National Guard were not allowed in to help quell the insurrection for an extended time.

Police found pipe bombs and Molotov cocktails. Five people, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, died in the rampage. Vice President Mike Pence and all members of the U.S. House and Senate sheltered in place as the violent mob attempted, unsuccessfully, to reach them, some carrying zip ties. Late that evening after law enforcement and the National Guard retook the Capitol, lawmakers reconvened and certified the election.

‘I Know the Signs of a Coup When I See Them’

Fiona Hill, a foreign-affairs specialist and academic who served as deputy assistant to the president on the U.S. National Security Council under Trump from 2017 to 2019, described Trump’s public actions, the attempts to overturn the election that Hyde-Smith participated in and the ensuing violence at the Capitol as “a coup attempt” in an op-ed for Politico yesterday.

Some have resisted using the term, Hill said, because of the idea that a coup is a “sudden, violent seizure of power involving clandestine plots and military takeovers.”

“But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a coup attempt,” she wrote. “Trump disguised what he was doing by operating in plain sight, talking openly about his intent. He normalized his actions so people would accept them. I’ve been studying authoritarian regimes for three decades, and I know the signs of a coup when I see them. … As in the case of other coup attempts, the president’s actions have put us on the brink of civil war. Trump did not overturn the election results, but, just as he intended, he disrupted the peaceful democratic transition of executive power.”

During the 2019 impeachment hearings, Hill served as a witness, affirming allegations that Trump had attempted to extort Ukraine’s president into helping him with his 2020 election effort by forcing Ukrainian prosecutors to announce a trumped-up investigation into Biden and his son.

Thompson: Ethics Charges Possible for Cruz, Hawley

Over the weekend, Democratic leaders in the U.S. House announced impeachment proceedings against the current president for the second time in 13 months. Leaders plan to bring an impeachment article for Incitement of Insurrection to the House floor tomorrow.

“Though it has been apparent for years, it is more clear than ever that President Trump is a direct threat to the homeland each remaining minute he is in power. He must be removed from office immediately,” U.S. House Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat who chairs the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee, said on Jan. 7.

U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson called for Trump’s impeachment on Jan. 7, saying the president represents a threat to national security. Photo courtesy U.S. House Homeland Security Committee.

Yesterday on SiriusXM’s The Joe Madison Show, Thompson said he blames Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri for helping incite violence at the Capitol by pushing electoral fraud conspiracy theories. Officials could hold them liable, he said. 

“Even a member of Congress that commits a crime, you know, they expel you from the body. There are ethics charges that can be brought against those individuals, and people are looking into this,” said Thompson, who represents Mississippi’s 2nd Congressional District. “What Hawley did and what Cruz did was horrible.”

Hinds GOP Chair ‘No Longer Proud to Say He Is My President’

Republican leaders in Mississippi condemned the president, too. In a Jan. 7 statement, Hinds County Republican Party Chairman Pete Perry condemned the insurrection at the Capitol and the president of his own party, calling Jan. 6 one of the nation’s “darkest days.”

“In our republican democracy, we should expect a peaceful transition of power following any and every election. Instead, our citizens and people around the world saw the storming of our nation’s Capitol, attacks on law enforcement officers sworn to protect it and its occupants, and the disruption and suspension of our Congress while its members were performing their sworn duty. … The fires had been stoked and the match lit—and the result was more than disgusting,” Perry said.

The Hinds County GOP chairman said he denounced “anyone who participated in the illegal mob riot and insurrection” and “anyone who supports it.”

Donald Trump White House - Mississippi Free Press
Democrats, including U.S. House Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and some Republicans, are calling to impeach President Donald Trump, accusing him of inciting an insurrection that led to at least four deaths at the U.S. Capitol yesterday. Photo courtesy White House

“Donald Trump has been my president for the past four years. I voted for him last November. I certainly did not vote for Joe Biden or in any way did I support him. But just as Donald Trump was my president and will be for the next two weeks—although I am no longer proud to say that he is the president—Joe Biden will be my, and our, president for the next four years,” Perry said.

Unlike the president’s first impeachment, Republican leaders are not urging members to vote against the impeachment articles. Punchbowl News reported today that GOP leadership expects 10 to 20 House members to vote to impeach their own party’s president this time around; none did so last year.

Unlike the state’s three Republican members of the U.S. House, Mississippi’s senior U.S. senator, Roger Wicker, did not join Hyde-Smith in voting to overturn the election results on Jan. 6.

GOP Reps Admit Biden Victory, Call for ‘Healing’

In a statement before the insurrectionist mob seized the Capitol that day, Wicker noted that, under the Constitution and federal law, Congress’ role is “limited to counting electoral votes duly submitted by the states” and “anything further would not be compatible with our Constitution or the conservative principles of limited government that I have sworn to defend.”

“Congress cannot—and should not—get into the business of deciding the results of our elections,” said Wicker, who has rarely opposed Trump in the Senate.

But yesterday, Wicker announced that he opposes bringing impeachment charges against Trump and also opposes any plan for Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

“In accordance with our Constitution, the orderly transfer of power will occur at noon on January 20. The best way for our country to heal and move past the events of last week would be for this process to continue,” Wicker said in a statement yesterday.

U.S. House Rep. Michael Guest, one of the four Mississippi Republicans who voted to overturn the election hours after last week’s insurrection, said in a statement yesterday that it is “vitally important that we turn our attention toward healing our nation following the events that took place at the Capitol” and “to focus on the common values we share as citizens of this great country and to put aside our perceived differences.”

“As we begin preparing for a transfer of power from one administration to another in less than 10 days, I believe it is vitally important to allow our nation to heal, and I believe these actions that are being pushed on the House floor would prevent our nation from beginning the healing process,” Guest said. “At this decisive moment in our history, we must focus on uniting our country and avoid stoking the fiery tensions currently consuming our nation.”

U.S. House Rep. Steven Palazzo, a Republican who represents Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District, joined an unsuccessful GOP effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election by refusing to certify the electoral college vote. Photo courtesy Rep. Steven Palazzo

Another Mississippi Republican who voted to overturn the election, U.S. House Rep. Steven Palazzo, offered a similar theme of “unity” in the days after the attacks.

In the days before the insurrection, the 4th Congressional District congressman repeated Trump’s false claims about election fraud and called for millions of votes in swing states Biden won “to be deemed fraudulent or void.” In a statement on Jan. 8, though, Palazzo claimed that his “efforts were not to overturn the election but to draw serious attention to the perceived unconstitutional acts and irregularities in several states”—none of which he described or specified.

“Like it or not, Joe Biden is now the President-elect. Joe Biden has promised to heal America and to be a president for all Americans. It is imperative that he live up to this promise,” Palazzo said in the Jan. 8 statement, before stoking conservative fears about alleged Democratic “radicalism.”

“I’ve been fighting the left’s radical agenda, and if it is implemented, it will destroy America as we know it. We will no longer stand as a free republic but fall to be a third-rate socialist country. There is more that unites us than divides us, and that’s where we must focus,” he said in the dizzying statement, which he ended by urging Americans to “set aside politics” and move forward.

In a statement yesterday, Sen. Wicker similarly said that he hopes to work with Democrats in the Senate on a “bipartisan” basis, but will “stand strong against any proposals that could lead our country toward socialism.” Neither Biden nor top leaders in the Democratic Senate have proposed any socialist policies.

In tweets yesterday, Rep. Thompson dismissed his Republican colleagues’ calls for unity.

“The fake calls for healing from the people who aided Trump are laughable,” the Delta congressman said.

Cheney: Trump ‘Summoned This Mob’

In a statement this evening, Rep. Palazzo said he opposes impeachment.

“Following the chaos we witnessed on Wednesday in our nation’s Capitol building, the Democrats are moving ahead on a destined-to-fail article of impeachment, dividing our nation further,” the Republican congressman said. “I earnestly believe this is the most inappropriate action at this time and will be voting against this partisan maneuver. It is abundantly clear that America is experiencing a time of uncertainty and turmoil, and we do not need to add more fuel to an already burning fire.”

But several Republicans have made clear today that, unlike the House’s December 2019 impeachment vote, this one will not split along partisan lines.

This afternoon, The New York Times reported that Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has told associates he is “pleased that Democrats are moving to impeach him, believing that it will make it easier to purge him from the party.” 

Dozens of large corporations that are essential to the party’s fundraising efforts have withdrawn support from the party since the Capitol attack and specifically from elected officials who objected on Jan. 6 to certifying the election for Biden.

The insurrectionist mob that stormed the Capitol and clashed with police carried American flags, Trump flags, Blue Lives Matter flags and Confederate flags, like the one pictured with an assault rifle on it. Photo by Blink O’Fanaye

U.S. House Rep. John Katko, a New York Republican, announced in a statement today that he plans to join at least 218 Democrats in voting to impeach the president.

“To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy,” Katko said in today’s statement. “For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action. I will vote to impeach this president. It cannot be ignored that 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.”

Soon after, Rep. Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican and the daughter of former GOP Vice President Dick Cheney, announced she will vote to impeach her party’s president, too.

“The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not,” Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House, said in her statement this afternoon. 

“There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution. I will vote to impeach the President.”

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