Republican Congressman Peter Meijer thinks former President Trump “destroyed” his legacy on January 6, calling the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters the “defining moment” of his presidency. Meijer was one of 10 Republicans in the House to vote to impeach Mr. Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection last month.
In an interview with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett, Meijer said he believed Mr. Trump would have “secured himself an interesting but positive place in the history books” if he had just acknowledged that he lost the presidential election in December, after the Electoral College had certified now-President Biden as the victor. Meijer spoke with Garrett for this week’s episode of “The Takeout” podcast.
Highlights from this week’s episode:
- Congressman Peter Meijer on former President Trump’s legacy: “I frankly think that, despite all of the tweets and tension, that is an administration that would have aged well once some things were moved passed. But honestly now, the events of January 6 — that was the capstone, that was the defining moment.”
- Meijer on Mr. Trump’s inaction on January 6: “We had the number two, three, and four in the line of succession after the president in that building and he stood by and watched. We’re frankly incredibly lucky that day wasn’t worse than it was.”
- Meijer on his vote to impeach Mr. Trump: “I hope that we can get to a point where we can move on, but you can’t do that if you don’t address the wound. If you just paper it over, it’s only going to get worse and worse.”
- Meijer on some Republicans voting the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen: “As long as those myths, those fictions, those lies persist, we’re in for deep, deep problems as a party and as a country.”
“I frankly think that, despite all of the tweets and tension, that is an administration that would have aged well once some things were moved passed. But honestly now, the events of January 6 — that was the capstone, that was the defining moment,” Meijer said. “And I think that a storming of the Capitol by [Trump’s] supporters — that erased, that destroyed all the positive components of that legacy.”
Meijer said that he also would have voted to impeach Mr. Trump if House Democrats had drafted an article condemning the president for his inaction on January 6. He added that he was “speechless” that the president had declined to act while his own vice president was at the Capitol.
“We had the number two, three, and four in the line of succession after the president in that building and he stood by and watched. We’re frankly incredibly lucky that day wasn’t worse than it was,” Meijer said.
Meijer pushed back against critics saying that impeachment was divided, saying that unity could not be achieved unless there was accountability.
“I hope that we can get to a point where we can move on, but you can’t do that if you don’t address the wound. If you just paper it over, it’s only going to get worse and worse,” he said.
Meijer also discussed the future of the Republican Party, with so many Republicans still seeing Mr. Trump as its leader.
“I think any entity that orients itself around a personality is going to have challenges,” he said. He noted that Republicans lost control of the House in 2018, of the White House in 2020, and of the Senate in 2021 and said “the Republican Party was on a losing trajectory” even before January 6.
Meijer also argued that continuing to promote the lie that the election was stolen from Mr. Trump would only cause further damage.
“As long as those myths, those fictions, those lies persist, we’re in for deep, deep problems as a party and as a country,” he said, adding that telling Republican voters the 2020 election was rigged would also hurt them electorally. “To me it’s so patently, obviously, idiotic political malpractice that I am just at a pure and utter loss at how anyone thinks this is viable longterm strategy to regain the majority or regain the trust of the public that the Republican Party can be a governing entity.”
For more of Major’s conversation with Meijer, download “The Takeout” podcast on Art19, iTunes, GooglePlay, Spotify and Stitcher. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch “The Takeout” on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of “The Takeout” episodes, visit www.takeoutpodcast.com. And you can listen to “The Takeout” on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).
Producers: Arden Farhi, Jamie Benson, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson
CBSN Production: Eric Soussanin, Julia Boccagno and Grace Segers
Show email: [email protected]
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