After becoming the first Republican to publicly announce their support for impeaching President Donald Trump for his role in inciting the insurrection at the Capitol, U.S. Rep. John Katko stood before his colleagues on the House floor Tuesday night and explained why he believes Trump must be held accountable.
The House was debating a separate resolution — a non-binding measure requesting Vice President to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office. Democrats yielded time to Katko, R-Camillus, so that he could speak.
While Katko opposed the resolution because Pence already stated he wouldn't invoke the amendment, most of the GOP congressman's speech focused on impeachment and the insurrection that occurred Jan. 6 at the Capitol.
In his 2-minute speech, Katko revealed that one of his former interns is a Capitol Police officer who was injured in the riot. There were other officers severely hurt in the attack. One officer, Brian Sicknick, was killed by the pro-Trump mob. Katko offered condolences to Sicknick's family.
Katko, a former federal prosecutor, praised the hundreds of Capitol Police officers who "heroically upheld their duty to defend the United States and protect those who work here."
"Now, just as the Capitol Police protected us, Congress must match that courage and protect the Constitution, our democratic processes and this nation," he added.
Katko panned Trump for inciting the insurrection — the subject of the article of impeachment that the House will consider on Wednesday. He said the president's role is "undeniable."
"Both on social media ahead of Jan. 6 and in his speech that day, he deliberately promoted baseless theories creating a combustible environment of misinformation and division," Katko said. "To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequences is a direct threat to the future of this democracy.
"For this reason, I will vote to impeach this president."
Katko is one of four Republicans who, as of Tuesday, have said they will support impeaching Trump. Joining the Syracuse-area congressman is U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican. U.S. Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Fred Upton are also in favor of impeachment.
As Katko spoke out about the need for accountability, he also called for unity.
"After last week's attack on the Capitol, it is clear our nation is more divided than ever in recent history," he said. "We began this great experiment over 240 years ago and to preserve it, we must remember our faith, race or political party is not what unites us. What unites us is that we are Americans. I'd encourage members of this body and everyone at home to remember that simple truth."
Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.