Harris’ GOP Predecessor Backs Impeachment as Lawmakers Call for Him to Step Down

    Two dozen former Republican members of Congress ― including the Eastern Shore’s former Rep. Wayne Gilchrest ― are encouraging their successors to “protect American democracy by impeaching President Donald J. Trump.”

    The letter was sent Monday and circulated by the nonpartisan watchdog group Project on Government Oversight.

    “For more than 200 years, the peaceful transfer of power has been one of the pillars of American government. Sadly, this tradition has been severely tarnished,” the former members wrote. “There is no excuse for nor defense of a President of the United States to actively orchestrate an insurrection on a separate but coequal branch of government. Surely, the Founders would be sickened by the thought of such actions. As members of the branch that was under attack—not just politically but physically—you must remove the president from office.”

    Former Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest. U.S. House photo

    “Congress must send a strong and clear message not just to this president but future presidents that this type of behavior will not be tolerated or accepted,” the letter continued. “Frankly, the message also needs to be made clear to the American people that there is no place in politics for political violence.”

    Other signers of the letter include former Virginia representatives Denver Riggleman and Barbara Comstock and former Pennsylvania representatives Charlie Dent and James C. Greenwood.

    Gilchrest represented Maryland’s 1st District as a moderate Republican. He lost the Republican primary to now-Rep. Andrew P. Harris in 2008 and went on to endorse Harris’ Democratic opponent Frank Kratovil Jr., who won the election and served one term before losing to Harris in 2010.

    Harris has held the seat since.

    Gilchrest changed his party affiliation to Democrat in 2019.

    The letter was sent on the same day that 71 Democratic members of the Maryland House of Delegates and 13 state senators signed a letter condemning Harris’ comments about unfounded election fraud and calling for him to resign.

    In the early morning after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Harris joined other colleagued in continuing to object to the certification of election results from Pennsylvania.

    “Rather than recognizing that your words and behavior in office have damaged our democracy, have threatened our Constitution, and have undermined the nation you are sworn to, your response to the attack on our Capitol was to continue to use the same words and behavior,” the lawmakers wrote. “To vote with too many of your colleagues to undermine a free and fair election. To give comfort to the enemies of democracy within our borders and around the world.”

    The morning after the vote, Harris defended his response in a public statement.

    “I have routinely and consistently rejected violent protests, whether in the case of yesterday, or last summer. Democrats are calling for unity, yet also calling for the expulsion of Members who objected in yesterday’s Electoral College count. Today, some Marylanders are even calling for my resignation, which I will not do,” Harris said. “My colleagues and I held legitimate Constitutional concerns about how the November election was conducted in certain states and felt compelled to highlight those concerns during the formal vote count.”

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    Danielle E. Gaines
    Danielle Gaines most recently worked for Bethesda Beat covering Montgomery County. Previously, she spent six years at The Frederick News-Post as the paper’s principal government and politics reporter for half that time, covering courts and legal affairs before that. She also reported for the now-defunct The Gazette of Politics and Business in Maryland and previously worked as a county government and education reporter at the Merced Sun-Star in California’s Central Valley.