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Herrell splits with NM delegation on impeachment

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Yvette Herrell addresses a crowd Jan. 31, 2020 at the Republican Party of Chaves County’s pre-primary convention in Roswell. Herrell, who in November was elected to represent New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, said Tuesday she will not support efforts to remove Trump from office. (Daily Record File Photo)

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New Mexico Republican U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell said she does not support efforts to remove President Donald Trump from office before his term ends next week.

Herrell, who in November unseated Democratic U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small in the race for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, in a statement Tuesday said efforts to impeach Trump or remove him from office via the 25th Amendment would only exacerbate divisions in the country.

“That is why I will vote against any effort to remove the president from office this week. Doing so will not heal our country, bridge our partisan divides, give Americans hope or bring us together. It would only make things worse,” she said.

Steve Pearce, chairman of New Mexico’s Republican Party, struck a similar tone Monday after Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled an article of impeachment against Trump for incitement to insurrection.

“This kind of rhetoric and action by lawmakers in Washington only pours more fuel on the political fires raging across the nation. We condemn all violence and what took place at the U.S. Capitol last week, but now is the time for our country to move forward. Our nation needs to reunite as a democracy and the healing process must begin,” Pearce said.

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Calls for Trump to leave or be ousted from office before President-elect Joe Biden takes office Jan. 20 have grown following the Jan. 6 attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, in which five people died and several dozen individuals have been charged.

A throng of Trump supporters along with members of various right-wing groups touched off the violence when they clashed with police and forced their way into the Capitol while lawmakers were in a joint session of Congress to certify the results of the presidential election.

Many are blaming Trump for the violence that transpired, accusing him of encouraging the crowd to march to the Capitol at a rally earlier in the day and then praising them in social media posts after they breached security at the Capitol.

Herrell on Tuesday did condemn the violence at the Capitol, saying it has no place in the United States, especially when police officers are assaulted. She also compared the violence at the Capitol with the unrest and destruction of property that happened during demonstrations against racial injustice across the country.

“Leaders in both parties have a responsibility to condemn such violence — whether in the halls of Congress or on the streets of America’s cities,” Herrell said.

Herrell, a loyal supporter of Trump, has not singled out Trump as responsible for the violence, something that puts her at odds with the two other representatives and senators, all Democrats, who represent New Mexico in Congress.

New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich accuses Trump of willfully inciting those who committed acts of vandalism and violence at the Capitol and said because of that, Trump should be impeached and prevented from ever again holding elected office.

“There must be accountability as we hold those responsible who committed those violent acts like the president who incited these crimes and those who enabled the president’s worst impulses,” he said.

Heinrich disputed the idea that impeachment is driven by a thirst for political retribution.

“I am not motivated by the desire to punish this failed president. I am motivated by the desire to turn the page on this dark chapter in our country’s history,” he said.

Some members say that while impeachment is something they back, they would also prefer removing Trump through section 4 of the 25th Amendment of the Constitution, which would allow Trump to be removed and Vice President Mike Pence to become acting president if Pence and a majority of cabinet secretaries determine that Trump cannot discharge the duties of the office of president.

U.S. Rep. Teresa Ledger Fernandez, a Democrat from New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District, said in a Jan. 8 Facebook post that Trump is “a danger to our country” and she supports invoking the 25th Amendment, but if the Vice President and Trump’s cabinet do not invoke it, then Congress must act through impeachment.

Adan Serna, a spokesperson for Sen. Ben Ray Lujan, D-NM, said that if the impeachment proceedings come to the U.S. Senate and there is a trial, Lujan will support impeachment.

“Congress must send a clear message that inciting a violent attack on our Capitol and law enforcement is unacceptable,” Serna said.

Though the House remains in session and is expected to vote on impeachment today, Serna said the Senate has adjourned until Jan. 19 and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he will not call back the Senate early to vote on the article and hear evidence in an impeachment trial.

If the impeachment article passes the House, Trump will be the first president ever to be impeached more than once.

The U.S. House, in a mostly party-line vote, impeached Trump in December 2019 over allegations he withheld military aid to Ukraine and conditioned its release on that country investigating Hunter Biden, son of now President-elect Joe Biden.

Later an impeachment trial was held in the Senate, and Senators voted not to convict Trump.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301 or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.