Republican Congressman Anthony Gonzalez said on Sunday that Donald Trump should not be able to hold office again due to his actions surrounding the January 6 Capitol riot, and warned that the former president could try to steal the 2024 election
Gonzalez, a former NFL player representing a district near Cleveland, voted along with nine other House Republicans to impeach Trump following the riot. He frequently criticizes the GOP embrace of Trump’s claims the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
On CNN Sunday, Gonzalez criticized Trump on both ethical and political grounds. He said he does not trust the former president, while also calling him an “enormous political loser” who led the Republican Party “into a ditch.”
“The former president lied to us. He lied to every one of us,” he said. “And in doing so, he cost us the House, the Senate, and the White House. I see fundamentally a person who shouldn’t be able to hold office again because of what he did around January 6.”
After the riot, Gonzalez accused Trump of organizing and inciting a “mob that attacked the United States Congress in an attempt to prevent us from completing our solemn duties as prescribed by the Constitution.”
He faced significant backlash from Republicans and Trump, who endorsed his primary challenger Max Miller. Local Ohio GOP organizations censured Gonzalez, while others called for his resignation.
Gonzalez announced in September that he would not run for re-election, citing his “desire to build a fuller family life.”
He defended his impeachment vote on Sunday.
“In order to get me to vote for any impeachment, I have to believe that there was a grave assault on our country committed by the sitting president, whoever it is,” he said. “It was deeply sad to come to the conclusion that I did and to feel like I could no longer trust the president of the United States, even for a few days, to be the commander-in-chief of our military.”
Although Trump has not formally announced he plans to run for president again in 2024, Gonzalez warned that he might try to steal the election.
He said he believes Trump has evaluated to see who “stood in his way” in 2020 and has worked to replace them with people who would do “exactly what he wants them to.”
“Do the institution hold again? Do they hold with a different set of people in place?” Gonzalez said. “I hope so, but you can’t guarantee it.”
In May, Gonzalez slammed members of his party who have perpetuated “falsehoods” that led to the riot as “horribly irresponsible.”
“I think as a party, frankly, we need to be on the side of truth, we need to be on the side of substance, and that’s how we’re going to win back majorities both in the House and the Senate and hopefully the White House in 2024,” he said.
He was also one of nine Republicans who voted to approve a criminal referral against former Trump adviser Steve Bannon after he refused to comply with a subpoena issued by the House select committee investigating the riot, as well as one of the 13 Republicans to vote in support of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.