Pat Roberts, who left the U.S. Senate only a few days before it was overrun by an insurrectionist mob, says he doesn’t believe President Donald Trump should be removed from office.

“There’s no need for that,” Roberts said in a phone interview with The Mercury Monday. “Let the man ride off into the sunset, and then you can pillory him all you want.”

Roberts, a Republican, chose not to run for re-election in 2020, and so retired from the Senate. His replacement, fellow Republican Roger Marshall, was sworn in Jan. 3. The pro-Trump riot that broke into the Capitol in an attempt to prevent Congress from certifying the election of Joe Biden as the new President occurred three days later.

Roberts said he would not have voted as Marshall did, to challenge the election results in two states. Marshall was one of only six senators to do so after the mob, incited by Trump, pillaged through the halls of Congress. Five people’s deaths are directly connected; a Capitol Police officer also died by suicide days later, but it’s not clear if that’s directly related. (That officer was born in Manhattan; see that story elsewhere in this edition.)

“No,” he said quickly, when asked if he would have voted to challenge election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania. “That is not within our purview. The founding fathers did not mean for us to interfere in state elections, even if state elections were flawed.”

He said he agreed with speeches on that subject given by senators Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, — with whom he says he rarely agreed — and Mike Lee, R-Utah.

Roberts said the pro-Trump rallies last week that preceded the rampaging mob “got completely out of hand.”

“Responsibility for that lies with the president along with the people with him,” Roberts said. “His whole administration has been full of this kind of thing.”

But there’s nothing productive that would come from removing him from office, Roberts said. He’s not incapacitated, and removing him would only serve to further divide the country, he said. “The best thing to do to alleviate it is not to stir it up anymore. Let him serve out his term.”

Roberts acknowledged that “these are not good days,” but also said there have been difficult times before, recalling his days in Washington in the 1960s and 1970s, with the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr., plus the Watergate scandal. “It’s not like we haven’t had bad times before.”

Roberts said he watched the attack on the Capitol on television, and had a moment of panic as he saw his purple K-State folder on his former desk, right near Sen. Mitch McConnell. He mused about what he might have done: Put on a cowboy hat, put his feet up on the desk, and directly addressed the rioters: “My name’s Roberts, and I’m from Kansas. Welcome to the United States Senate. You might want to think about the fact that you’re all on video, and you’re all going to be arrested.”

He chuckled. He was kidding.