WASHINGTON – Rep. Chris Jacobs on Tuesday doubled down on his controversial decision to challenge electors from swing states that elected Democrat Joe Biden president, while also rejecting efforts to remove President Trump from office for his role in inspiring insurrectionists to ransack the U.S. Capitol last week.
In a telephone interview, Jacobs, an Orchard Park Republican, offered his most detailed comments yet about votes he took after the Capitol riot that prompted seven Democratic state legislators to call for his resignation. He said his votes to reject Biden's election were based on his reading of the Constitution, and that his upcoming votes to reject congressional efforts to get Trump out of office early are based on the Constitution as well.
Calling his vote to essentially overturn the election the hardest he ever cast, Jacobs added: "I hope people at least take to heart that I did spend an immense amount of time studying this. I'm trying to do the right thing here."
And even though his vote six days ago questioned the validity of the election, Jacobs said Tuesday that it's now time to move on.
Asked about a pending House vote late Tuesday on a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet to oust Trump from office via the Constitution's 25th amendment, Jacobs highlighted Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20 and Trump's departure from the White House that day.
"He's going to be out a week from tomorrow," Jacobs said. "I think what we should be focused on is the transition."
Jacobs also said it wasn't really the House's business to weigh in on Pence's potential use of the 25th amendment to remove Trump.
"It's really an executive function," he said. "And this is just a resolution, because we don't have a role at this point."
Jacobs also rejected the House Democratic majority's move to impeach Trump for "incitement of insurrection," which is likely to come up for a vote in the House on Wednesday. He said Democrats are rushing the process by not holding impeachment hearings and thoroughly considering the evidence.
"I think what they're doing is just ramrodding an impeachment through, which is undermining the institution of impeachment," he said. "A lot of people might like it right now because they are angered at Donald Trump, but if we set a precedent here, it can be used again. And I don't think that's good for the republic."
Asked if he thought Trump incited the insurrection at the Capitol when he told supporters at a rally that morning to head to Capitol Hill to try to influence lawmakers to overturn the election, Jacobs said he did not.
Having listened to and read Trump's speech, "I don't see anything that that is specifically advocating violence," Jacobs said.
However, Jacobs – who won election last year in the heavily conservative 27th Congressional District by touting Trump's support for his campaign – added: "I think some of his language has been poor judgment, and troubling."
For that reason, Jacobs said he would consider supporting a resolution censuring Trump. Rep. Tom Reed, a Corning Republican, and other lawmakers are expected to propose such a censure resolution later today.
In the interview, Jacobs expressed no regrets about joining 146 other congressional Republicans who last week challenged the certification of Biden's electoral win. He also said the mob attack on the Capitol did not prompt him to reconsider that move.
"I was under no illusion that there was going to be a change in the outcome," he said. "It was more to have a discussion on this concern to stand up for election integrity because I think that's very important."
Jacobs said he voted not to certify the swing-state election results because their state legislatures did not approve changes in election law, as required by the Constitution. Yet that was the exact rationale behind a Texas lawsuit challenging the election results last month – a lawsuit that Jacobs refused to back.
Asked about that apparent change of heart, Jacobs said he rejected the Texas lawsuit on constitutional grounds as well, arguing that it was inappropriate for one state to challenge how another state is conducting its elections.
Jacobs' refusal to certify Biden's electoral win culminated in a political backlash. Commenters on his Twitter account have been eviscerating him ever since, and seven state legislators Sunday wrote a letter calling for Jacobs to resign.
“Even after experiencing the attack on the Capitol Building, Congressman Chris Jacobs abandoned his oath of office and constitutional duty when he voted against certifying the results of a free and fair election,” those legislators, including Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, wrote.
In response, Jacobs said: "I am not going to resign ... I think it's very arrogant for the Western New York Democrats to think that they are at some high level position that they want to override the voters of the 27th district. You know, I'm honored to serve them. If they don't want me to represent them, they can vote me out in two years."