Republican Rep. Tom Rice who voted for Trump's impeachment says the ex-president is 'purging' the GOP and trying to turn the party into a 'bunch of yes-men loyalists'
- GOP Rep. Tom Rice faces a primary challenger on Tuesday after voting to impeach Trump after January 6.
- He told Politico that the ex-president is "purging" the GOP into "a bunch of yes-men loyalists."
Republican Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina says former President Donald Trump is "purging" the GOP amid his own fight for his political life against a primary challenger on Tuesday.
Rice was one of 10 House Republicans that voted to impeach Trump following the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol.
"He's purging. He's purging. He's trying to set the Republican Party up as a bunch of yes-men loyalists," Rice told Politico in a recent interview. "Think about that. That's scary."
Rice now faces a primary challenge from South Carolina state Rep. Russell Fry, who's been endorsed by the former president. A recent Trafalgar Group poll showed Fry leading Rice by more than 17 points in South Carolina's conservative 7th district.
The incumbent 5-term congressman also told Politico that he didn't think Trump was a threat to democracy until the January 6 attack.
"He hadn't shown himself to be a tyrant before that," he said. "I don't think he was a tyrant before that. I do think he's a narcissist. He craves attention. He hates to lose."
"I wish he had won," Rice added. "I wish he had won, because then January 6 wouldn't have happened."
The South Carolina Republican is just the latest target of Trump's ire; he's endorsed primary challengers to other Republicans that voted to impeach him, including Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming.
In the year and a half since then, Rice has spoken up to compare Trump's actions leading up to January 6 with that of a dictator.
"If the president, by force, can intimidate Congress into voting their way, then we might as well do away with Congress and hand it over to a king," Rice said in an interview with the Washington Post in May 2021. "What he did in my mind is what dictators do."
And following a Trump rally in South Carolina in March, Rice issued a statement condemning his primary opponent, Fry, as someone who "supports a would-be tyrant over the Constitution" and "makes decisions based solely on re-election."
Rice also told Politico that he believes former House Speaker Paul Ryan, who recently campaigned with Rice in South Carolina, would have voted to impeach Trump if he'd been in the House at the time.
"I have a lot of respect for Paul," said Rice.
Ryan, for his part, recently told a group of supporters in South Carolina that most other Republicans didn't have the "guts" to vote to impeach Trump like Rice did.
"There were a lot of people who wanted to vote like Tom but who just didn't have the guts to do it," said Ryan, according to the Myrtle Beach Sun News. "There are a lot of people who say they're going to vote their conscience, they're going to vote for the Constitution, they're going to vote for their convictions but when it gets hard to do that they don't do it."
But despite Rice's outspokenness on Trump, he recently said he'd consider supporting him again if he apologized for his role in provoking the January 6 attack.
"There's one way: if he apologized," Rice said on ABC News. "If he came out and said: I'm sorry that I made a huge mistake on January 6th, then I might consider it."
—ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) June 6, 2022
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