PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The lone Republican member of Congress from Hampton Roads is watching the historic Senate impeachment hearing unfold.
Democrats have a tight timeline to prove the former commander in chief incited the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Virginia’s 1st District Congressman Rob Wittman was an eyewitness to the illegal activities that claimed lives and caused injuries.
In an interview hours after the deadly incident, Wittman described what he saw on the afternoon of Jan. 6 as Congress prepared to certify the results of the 2020 election.
“I was very concerned when I saw people getting into the building. I was very concerned and then when I saw them going to the Senate floor and I saw them breaking windows. That is absolutely unacceptable and I condemn that in the strongest terms possible,” said Wittman who was recently named as vice ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee.
Unlike the expedited House hearing, the Senate hearing is punctuated by the display of graphic video and sound of curse words and other violence during the insurrection, which Democrats say was staged in an attempt to overthrow the results of a lawful 2020 Presidential Election.
It is unlikely all Democrats in the Senate and 17 Republicans will convict the president of the single article of impeachment, which reads: “Donald John Trump engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors by inciting violence against the government of the United States.”
Wittman has been consistent in his public and official responses to the former president’s unproven claims of a rigged election. He signed an amicus brief as part of a Texas-backed lawsuit that challenged the outcome of the election, and he voted against impeachment in the House.
The day before the opening day of the Senate hearing, 10 On Your Side asked Wittman whether he believes the former president incited the violence that took place on Capitol Hill.
He answered: “The Senate will hear the evidence there and make that determination.”
When asked what his determination is, because he’s seen the evidence, he said a “flash impeachment … is problematic.”
Wittman answered again: “When the articles of impeachment came before the House I voted against that. Taking the action of a flash impeachment without any hearing before the judiciary committee without the presentation of any evidence is problematic.”
Also controversial: The dust-up surrounding freshman Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives stripped her of committee assignments after video surfaced of her following the teen survivor of a mass shooting, video of claims that follow conspiracy theories and nods to social media posts that advocated violence.
Wittman voted against stripping the ardent Trump supporter of two committee assignments. In a Capitol Hill news conference last week, Greene sent a message to the GOP: “And when I tell you Republican voters support [Trump] still, the party is his.”
Still, Wittman distanced himself from some of Greene’s rhetoric.
“I am not in agreement — in any way shape or form — in agreement with her words about QAnon or any of the elements of conspiracy theories or her actions. I also know that Congress has to function based upon the idea that the majority can’t come in and take action on a minority [Congress member] without the minority [members of Congress] having a role in that,” said Wittman.
Concerning the role of the former president as head of the GOP, Wittman is walking a fine line. He says there are people out there who support the former president, but there are others who have different viewpoints.
“We want to make sure that our party includes all,” said Wittman.