As Republican legislators strain to argue against the impeachment of Donald Trump for inciting last week’s violent insurrection against Congress, some members of the GOP are resorting to what many people would regard as rhetorical stunts rather than providing any cogent argument against the removal of the seditious president in his remaining week in office.
Take Representative Brian Mast (R-FL), for instance.
Congressman Mast made his brief statement in the House debate over the impeachment of the lame-duck president even briefer, by asking a question that his colleagues must have assumed was rhetorical…until the lawmaker took a lengthy pause expecting that one of his Democratic colleagues would rise up to provide an answer.
“On January 6th, thousands broke the law by taking seige of our Capitol here with us inside,” Rep. Mast began his address, stating what was obvious to everyone who had endured the domestic terror attack on Congress.
“Has any one of those individuals who brought violence on this Capitol been brought here to answer whether they did that because of our president?” Mast continued, before promptly pausing dramtically for a full 30 seconds to await a response to a question not addressed to any specific witness or member of Congress.
Half a minute may seem like a brief period of time but, in the midst of the fast-paced impeachment hearing, those 30 seconds seemed like an eternity of dead air on the news networks broadcasting the proceedings.
When Congressman Mast’s unexpected query to no one in particular was met with silence, he apparently felt that his stunt had accomplished his goal of casting doubt on the motivations of a crowd that heard the losing candidate in the election tell them these words:
“We’re going walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women. We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”
It didn’t take long for The Washington Post political correspondent Dave Weigel to make a mockery of Representative Mast’s grandstanding stunt by providing exactly the proof that he was apparently looking for.
Florida Rep. Brian Mast making what seems, to him, to be a dramatic point: Standing silently after asking if any rioters have said that they acted bc of the president.
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) January 13, 2021
We’ll have to await the final roll call to see whether this concrete bit of recorded evidence proves to be enough to convince the Florida congressman to vote for impeachment, but somehow it seems that anyone pursuing this line of inquiry has already made up their mind about how they plan to vote.
That Congressman Mast wants to invite the violent rioters back to the scene of the crime to testify about their motivations isn’t an idea that is likely to be warmly welcomed by his colleagues whose lives were inches away from being in grave danger just one short week ago.
As one of the 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the election results even after the deadly incursion by violent right-wing extremists, Brian Mast could arguably be expelled from Congress for sedition.
Let’s hope that the Democrats have the guts to hold every member of the GOP who contributed to this insurrection with their election lies and rabble-rousing accountable for their actions and let the voters choose new representatives to replace their seditious surrogates in Congress with those who will be willing to uphold their oath to protect and defend the Constitution.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.