Ten Republicans crossed party lines on Wednesday to vote in favor of impeaching President Trump over his rhetoric around the deadly riot at the Capitol last week, making him the only president in the nation’s history to be impeached twice.
The House voted Wednesday to impeach Trump on the single charge of “incitement of insurrection,” accusing him of whipping up his supporters at a rally in front of the White House on January 6, after which a large group of Trump loyalists broke past security at the Capitol and marauded through the halls of Congress.
As calls for impeachment multiplied among Democrats over the following days, Representative John Katko of New York was the first Republican to come out in favor of impeachment.
“To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy,” Katko, a former federal prosecutor, said in a statement Tuesday. “For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action. I will vote to impeach this president.”
The first member of House GOP leadership to come out in favor of impeaching Trump was Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who chairs the House Republican Conference, making her the third-ranking House Republican.
“The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” Cheney said Tuesday in a statement. “Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
Shortly after Cheney’s statement was released, she was joined by another Republican congressman, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who announced that he would vote to impeach the president as well.
Two House Republicans from Washington State, Dan Newhouse and Jamie Herrera Beutler said they would vote to impeach.
Newhouse said on the House floor Wednesday that some, himself included, are “responsible for not speaking out sooner, before the president inflamed and misinformed a violent mob.”
Beutler said that while she understands the argument from other Republicans that “the best course is not to further inflame the country or alienate Republican voters,” she believes that “my own party will be best served when those among us choose truth.”
Representative Fred Upton, Michigan’s longest-serving current House member, said he made his decision to support impeachment after Trump insisted this week that his remarks to supporters just before the riot were “totally appropriate.”
After Upton announced he would vote yes on impeachment, his fellow Michigan Republican Peter Meijer, a freshman congressman, announced his support as well, saying Trump “bears responsibility for inciting the insurrection” and “betrayed his oath of office by seeking to undermine our constitutional process,” referring to the joint session of Congress that was in the process of certifying states’ electoral votes when the riot began.
Representative Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio also voted to impeach, accusing Trump of helping to “organize and incite a mob” that attempted to “prevent us from completing our solemn duties as prescribed by the Consitution.”
Representative Tom Rice of South Carolina’s vote to impeach came as a shock to his colleagues, as he had not previously indicated that he planned to vote yes, even remarking two days earlier that he thought impeachment would cause “further division.” Rice had also voted against the certification of several states’ electoral votes that Joe Biden won.
The tenth Republican who voted in favor of impeachment, Representative David Valadao of California, criticized the process as rushed and political but said he had to vote his conscience anyway.
“Speaker Pelosi has thrown precedent and process out the window by turning what should be a thorough investigation into a rushed political stunt,” Valadao said. “I wish, more than anything, that we had more time to hold hearings to ensure due process.”
“Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi did not afford us that option,” he continued. “Based on the facts before me, I have to go with my gut and vote my conscience. I voted to impeach President Trump. His inciting rhetoric was un-American, abhorrent, and absolutely an impeachable offense. It’s time to put country over politics.”
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