Trump Impeachment

‘This Is Just Political Theater': Sen. Rick Scott on Trump Impeachment Trial

As the historic impeachment trial enters its third day, Sen. Rick Scott says more focus should be placed on distributing the COVID-19 vaccine, not impeachment proceedings.

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In January, Florida’s two Republican senators voted to declare former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial unconstitutional.

The Senate rejected the Republican attempt to dismiss the trial, a vote that allows the case on “incitement of insurrection” to move forward, but also foreshadows that there may not be enough votes to convict Trump.

As the historic impeachment trial enters its third day, Sen. Rick Scott is echoing his belief that the proceedings are a "waste of time," saying more focus should be placed on distributing the COVID-19 vaccine.

Below is a transcript of an interview between Scott and NBC News' Caroline Tucker.

Note: This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

Tucker: You voted that [the impeachment hearing] is already unconstitutional. Can you set that aside and listen, as a juror, to the substance of the argument? Or does it carry no weight because of the constitutional issue?

Scott: Well, first off, you know I've been there the last two days and I've watched the videos and it's disgusting what these people did. They broke into the Capitol. They clearly need to be held accountable. My heart goes out to everybody that was injured including the families that lost their loved ones.

I hope everybody that got injured is fully recovered. I'm very appreciative of our law enforcement or Capitol Police what they did to keep everybody, including, you know, the congressmen and women, senators safe … it's disgusting, but it is unconstitutional.

We'll hear from the prior President’s counsel today to hear what they have to say, but this is just to me political theater. They should be doing this at the Kennedy Center, they shouldn't be doing it at the Capitol. I think their impeachment articles are pretty weak.

Tucker: By now you have heard the case made by the House Managers. Do their arguments sway you at all or has your decision been made up already? 

Scott: Well, I mean, I think that the videos are disgusting. The people that did it are disgusting. They need to be held accountable, but that's different than deciding to do something that's unconstitutional. And you know, trying to hold a prior president, non-existing president accountable, it's not constitutional.

And then here's the other problem, how is it helping anybody? It's not helping anybody get a job, it's not getting the vaccines out, it's not driving down drug prices. I mean, we're sitting here, we're gonna spend at least a week with this, and there's not going to be one thing good done for the American public.

We need to get this economy open, we need to get our schools open, we need to get people to vaccines. There's nothing happening this week up here that's doing any of that. This is all because they rushed into an impeachment.

I mean, think about it, there was no due process. There's no testimony from anybody, there's no depositions, nothing. I mean this is the most fascinating process the House went through. 

One of former President Donald Trump’s attorneys, David Schoen, presented a series of video clips used in the house managers’ case against Donald Trump and showed where edits were made in the content.

Tucker: During the trial, it came to light that the rioters were specifically looking for Vice President Mike Pence… they said they wanted to hang him. During the riot, President Trump tweeted that the Vice President was the problem and then the rioters quoted Trump during the riot. Given Vice President Pence’s deep loyalty to President Trump, what do you think of Trump’s actions regarding this matter specifically? Did the former president respond appropriately? 

Scott: First off, the president should have more quickly responded to say people ought to get out of the Capitol, and I'm disappointed the President didn't do that.

I've known, Mike Pence a long time. I served with him when I was governor of Florida, he was governor of Indiana. So Mike and Karen Pence are a wonderful family and they've got wonderful children. You have to really respect Mike Pence. I think it's horrible that people said they are interested in doing the things they said they are interested in doing. My experience with Mike Pence is, he'll always try to do the right thing. And so I think these people and the things they said, it's disgusting. I'm glad Mike and his family are safe and I wish Mike and Karen most success going forward. 

Tucker: I wanted to ask you to quickly on COVID. What are your thoughts on Governor DeSantis’ handling the vaccine rollout across Florida?

Scott: I live in Florida, so I talked to a lot of people who want to get the vaccine. I think everybody thinks it could go better until they get their vaccine, right? Not everybody wants to get the vaccine, but everybody who wants to get the vaccine would like to get it done yesterday.

So I've tracked the vaccines. I think the last numbers I saw was almost right at 3 million people who have gotten the vaccine. What I've tried to make sure is that we get as much information out to people so they know. I think a lot of people have been frustrated with how to get an appointment and where they can get it and things like that. I'm glad that about 3 million people have gotten the vaccine now.

What I've worked on is trying to make sure that we get as many vaccines for Florida as possible. We've got a significant elderly population. So I've worked with HHS to see if we can get more vaccines. It looks like the J&J one is going to get approved pretty quickly now which will be nice. 

Tucker: Are there any changes to the vaccine rollout or improvements to what's happening in Florida that you hope to happen more quickly there?

Scott: I have a bill that would basically create a lot more transparency so people would know where to get it. And each of our states would be responsible if they're not getting it out quick enough. A lot of people still don't understand why we sent out this number of vaccines, why it isn't really close to that number of vaccines that have been given. So I think that's something that every governor could give us a lot more information on.

It's no different than what my thoughts are with the testing. And what I learned as governor is give people good information, they'll make good decisions. And so, whether it's with testing or whether it's vaccines, get more information out to people, where people know exactly what to do.

I know a lot of my friends still don't have the vaccine, they'd like to get it and they're anxious. I think they don't think the process is perfect until they get their vaccine.

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