This Republican House member chose the Constitution over Donald Trump

Of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump for his actions during the January 6 US Capitol riot, South Carolina’s Tom Rice was the biggest surprise by far.

After all, Rice had cut a decidedly conservative — and pro-Trump — figure in Washington since being elected to the eastern South Carolina 7th district in 2012. (Rice was one of 139 Republican House members to object to the Electoral College results on January 6.)
Rice didn’t say much about his vote in its immediate aftermath. But in a terrific Washington Post profile of him that ran earlier this week, Rice puts its plainly:
    “It was very clear to me, I took an oath to defend the Constitution. I didn’t take an oath to defend Donald Trump. What he did was a frontal assault on the Constitution.”
      Which, well, yeah.
        There’s very little debate that Trump not only incited the mob that violently rioted at — and in — the Capitol building, but stood by in silence for hours after it became clear that situation had grown out of control and that people were being hurt. (Five people died as a result of the insurrection; more than 100 police officers were wounded.)
        What’s surprising is that Rice is one of only 10 Republicans — the vast majority of whom define themselves as “constitutional conservatives” — willing to stand up for that Constitution when confronted with Trump’s clear assault on it.
          Rice’s comments serve as a reminder that harshly judging Trump for what happened on January 6 should not be a partisan act. Republican members of Congress as well as Democratic ones were endangered as the violent rioters ran through the US Capitol. The insurrectionists were chanting, “Hang Mike Pence” — the Republican vice president of the United States.

          Actively undermining a free and fair election and then inciting a mob that sought to interfere with the Electoral College certification is simply a dangerous act for our democracy. 
          That it was done by a Republican President who commands significant loyalty among the GOP base should be immaterial to the calculations made by elected officials in the Party.
            “Should,” of course, is the operative word there. Barring a handful of principled objectors like Rice, the rest of the Republican Party went along with Trump’s behavior out of a self-interested worry for their own political careers.
            The Point: Rice could well lose his seat in a primary next year to a candidate willing to blindly back Trump at all times. Which shows you exactly where the Republican Party is at the moment.

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