A video of Rep. Tom Rice, a South Carolina Republican, castigating former President Donald Trump’s Jan. 6, 2021, “incitement” to violence during a GOP primary debate on Thursday has gone viral, garnering hundreds thousands of views.
Rice, who faces a Trump-endorsed opponent, was one of 10 House Republicans to join Democrats in impeaching the then-president for inciting his supporters to attack the federal legislative branch of government 16 months ago. in an apparent effort to disrupt the official certification of President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. On February 1, Trump announced his support for South Carolina State Rep. Russel Fry in his bid to unseat the incumbent Republican.
During the debate, Rice laid out her criticism of Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, saying the former president was “proud that these people are trashing the US Capitol.” A nearly three-minute clip of the GOP congressman’s remarks was shared on Twitter by anti-Trump group The Republican Accountability Project on Friday, which garnered more than 670,000 views Saturday morning.
“Democracy is a fragile thing and the only thing we need to protect ourselves from tyranny is our Constitution. And our Constitution must be protected at all costs,” Rice warned. The Republican lawmaker also explained that the framers of the Constitution understood that men “were corrupt” and created a system of checks and balances to preserve democracy.
Rice then explained what he saw firsthand on Jan. 6 and how Trump reacted.
“My friends, I was there on January 6. I was not absent. I was there,” he said. “I saw the deminers defusing bombs. I smelled the tear gas. I was on the floor of the house when the window broke, when they tried to break down the doors.” Rice said he saw Capitol police “beaten and broken” as he was evacuated with other members of Congress that day.
The congressman explained that after being evacuated, he began to wonder where Trump was, wondering why he had done nothing to try to stop the assault on Congress.
“He [Trump] sat in his dining room next to the Oval Office [in the White House] proud that these people ransacked the US Capitol, beat up the Capitol cops, and he did nothing to stop it,” the Republican lawmaker said. Rice pointed out that Trump, instead of trying to placate his supporters, actually tweeted an attack on his own vice president, Mike Pence.
“In fact, 20 minutes after they arrived at the Capitol, he tweeted, ‘Mike Pence has no guts,'” Rice said. “My friends, you may wonder if his speech that morning was incitement or not, but to me that tweet was incitement. If they had gotten their hands on Mike Pence, we could have lost our democracy that day. -the.”
On Jan. 6 at 2:24 p.m. ET, Trump tweeted, “Mike Pence didn’t have the guts to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution.”
“Our Constitution is too precious to be risked,” Rice continued. “And the only difference between me and all those leaders in Washington who said, ‘Oh, Donald Trump has gone too far, he should be impeached, he should be impeached,’ and then voted the other way – I took the stand of principle and defended our Constitution.”
Representative Liz Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming who also voted to impeach Trump and has become one of his harshest conservative critics, retweeted the video and praised the congresswoman. “Honourable men speak the truth. @TomRiceSC7 is an honorable and brave man,” the GOP congresswoman, who also faces a Trump-backed challenger, tweeted on Friday.
Trump has always denied any wrongdoing related to Jan. 6. The former president argued that the House Select Committee investigating the events of that violent day was openly “partisan” and was trying to prevent him from seeking future political office. He described the investigation as a “witch hunt”.
Four of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump have decided not to run again. Five of the other six face major GOP challengers endorsed by the former president. Representative David Valadao, a Republican from California, voted to impeach Trump but currently has no Trump-backed opponent.
“Congressman Tom Rice of South Carolina, the coward who abandoned his constituents by giving in to Nancy Pelosi and the radical left, and who actually voted against me on Impeachment Hoax #2, needs to be kicked out ASAP “, Trump said in February. 1 declaration.
Rice told NPR in an interview a few days later, “If we’re going to have a scenario where the president can try to bully Congress into doing what he wants, well shoot, we might as well have a monarchy.”
An internal Fry campaign march poll showed he held a substantial lead over Rice after Trump’s endorsement. That survey showed Fry was 30 points ahead of the incumbent GOP, with 52% support to Rice’s 22%. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9% and a confidence level of 95%.