Nine other House Republicans also supported impeachment: John Katko of New York; Adam Kinzinger of Illinois; Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio; Fred Upton and Peter Meijer of Michigan; Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse of Washington state; David Valadao of California; and Tom Rice of South Carolina.
Tom Rice’s vote may have been the most surprising. His coastal district strongly backed Trump in the election and he voted last week to object to certification of electoral votes in Arizona and Pennsylvania. “I have backed this President through thick and thin for four years. I’ve campaigned for him and voted for him twice. But this utter failure is inexcusable,” Rice said in a statement after the vote.
While he’s not sure if Trump’s January 6 speech amounted to incitement of a riot, “any reasonable person could see the potential for violence,” Rice said. “It is only by the grace of God and the blood of the Capitol Police that the death toll was not much, much higher.”
John Katko, a former federal prosecutor who represents the Syracuse area, said allowing Trump “to incite this attack without consequence” would be “a direct threat to the future of our democracy”.
“By deliberately promoting baseless theories suggesting the election was somehow stolen, the president created a combustible environment of misinformation, disenfranchisement and division,” Katko said. Trump’s refusal to call off the riot put “countless lives in danger,” he said.
Fred Upton, a former chairman of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee who is in his 18th term representing the Kalamazoo area, said he would have preferred a bipartisan, formal censure rather than impeachment. But he said Trump’s refusal to take responsibility for the riot left him no choice.
Trump claimed on Tuesday (Wednesday AEDT) that his remarks at a rally just before the riot were “totally appropriate”, an assertion that Upton said “sends exactly the wrong signal to those of us who support the very core of our democratic principles and took a solemn oath to the Constitution”.
Adam Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran who has emerged as a leading Trump critic, said he had no doubt that Trump “broke his oath of office and incited this insurrection”. Trump “used his position in the executive” branch to attack the legislative branch, said Kinzinger, who is in his sixth term representing northern Illinois.
Jaime Herrera Beutler, in her sixth term representing southwestern Washington, said that while many lawmakers fear Trump, “truth sets us free from fear. My vote to impeach a sitting president is not a fear-based decision,” she said. “I am not choosing a side. I’m choosing truth.”
Dan Newhouse said the Democratic-led articles of impeachment were flawed, but he would not use process as an excuse to vote no. “There is no excuse for President Trump’s actions,” said Newhouse, in his fifth term representing central Washington.
Peter Meijer, a freshman who represents the Grand Rapids area, said Trump betrayed his oath of office and “bears responsibility for inciting the insurrection we suffered last week.” Like other Republicans, he said he supported impeachment with a heavy heart.
Trump’s fate is now up the Republican-controlled Senate, which acquitted him last year without hearing witnesses in a trial. This time, however, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is said to be angry at Trump, not only over the Capitol insurrection but also the twin defeats in Georgia the day before that cost the Republican party its Senate majority, according to a Republican granted anonymity to discuss the situation.
McConnell said on Wednesday (Thursday AEDT) that he has not made a final decision on how he will vote in a Senate trial.
At least two Republican senators — Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania — have said they support impeachment or have called on Trump to resign. Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse has said he will consider impeachment. At least 17 Republican Senators would have to vote to convict for the judgment to stand.
Only one Republican senator, Mitt Romney of Utah, voted to convict Trump last year.
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