Impeaching President Donald Trump is distracting lawmakers from other issues facing the new Congress, such as providing more financial relief to businesses reeling from the pandemic, U.S. Rep. Jim Baird (R-Greencastle) said Thursday.
Baird voted against impeaching Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection over the deadly mob siege of the Capitol, joining a majority of his GOP colleagues in rejecting the historic rebuke of Trump in his final days in office — though 10 Republicans voted in favor.
“We’re talking about impeachment of a president that has, what, less than five or six days to be in office and we want to spend all this time … with a repeat of what I had to listen to for the last two years,” Baird said during a joint interview with Crawfordsville Radio and the Journal Review.
“So I was hoping that when we started a new Congress, we could start fresh and try to resolve the issues of greater concern for our people.”
Baird said he was “close enough to know exactly what was going on” as the pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, adding he never personally felt he was in danger.
“That might be a result of combat experience when you kind of get a feeling for what is real and what is not, so let’s just put it this way: the situation did not make the hair stand up on the back of my neck,” Baird said.
Baird expressed condolences to the families of the Capitol Police officers who died following the siege and said there was no place for violence.
And he sought to defend his vote objecting to the Electoral College results in Arizona and Pennsylvania — key battleground states won by President-elect Joe Biden. Baird said states that changed rules around voting amid the pandemic should have done so with the backing of state legislatures.
“So my biggest concern when I voted for that lack of certification simply involved future elections and the security and confidence that people have in our election process,” he said.
The U.S. Justice Department has joined elections officials from across the country in saying there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.
On the pandemic, Baird voiced support for additional coronavirus relief for businesses, although he did not say directly whether he would vote for $2,000 stimulus checks for families.
Around the time Baird spoke, Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan that would deliver another round of economic aid.
The plan proposes $1,400 checks for most Americans, which on top of $600 provided in the most recent COVID-19 bill would bring the total to the $2,000 that Biden has called for.
“I think we still have some investments to do help some of our businesses,” Baird said, “but by the same token I’m very aware of the cost of doing that and I think we have to continue to be prudent about how we do it.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.