On Wednesday, at least 232 members of Congress voted to impeach President Donald Trump after he incited his supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol (and then called them “very special people” in a video shared to Twitter). The vote is historic for more reason than one: not only is this the first time a U.S. President has been impeached twice, but it is also the most bipartisan impeachment our country has seen yet. History was first made in 1998, when five Democrats voted to impeach Bill Clinton — but this week, ten Republican Representatives voted in favor of impeaching Trump.
Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-highest ranking Republican in the House, was the most prominent congressperson to break from Trump. “The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” Cheney wrote in a statement. “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.”
She was joined by Rep. John Katko of New York, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse of Washington, Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan, Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina, Rep. David Valadao of California, and Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio.
Cheney faced pushback from other Republicans leaders, including Rep. Jim Jordan, who told reporters that he will be pushing to remove her from leadership within the House. Kinzinger, who also voted for impeachment, defended her on Twitter. “Liz has more support now than she did two days ago. She has gained immeasurable respect,” he wrote. He added in another tweet, “It was a sobering moment to vote in support of impeachment today… This is not a vote I took lightly, but a vote I took confidently. I’m at peace.”
It was a sobering moment to vote in support of impeachment today; to walk over to the U.S. Capitol, our symbol of democracy, and recall the violent insurrection we witnessed here just one week ago. This is not a vote I took lightly, but a vote I took confidently. I’m at peace.
— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) January 13, 2021
Upton wrote that “enough is enough,” even though he would have preferred a formal censure over an impeachment. “The Congress must hold President Trump to account and send a clear message that our country cannot and will not tolerate any effort by any President to impede the peaceful transfer of power from one President to the next,” he said. “Thus, I will vote to impeach.”
The impeachment will now move to trial in the Senate. If two-thirds of the Senate supports the House’s decision, Trump will be convicted and removed from office. He will also lose benefits including a lifetime pension, and — maybe most importantly — be disqualified from ever running for federal office again.
In order for this to happen, at least 17 Republican Senators will have to support the impeachment. Although this sounds like a lot, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already privately supported the decision to charge Trump, according to The New York Times. And the House’s decision is a positive sign: when Trump was first impeached for abuse of power in 2019, none of the House Republicans crossed party lines.
“I understand the argument that the best course is not to further inflame the country or alienate Republican voters. But I am also a Republican voter,” Herrera Beutler said in a statement. “I see that my own party will be best served when those among us choose truth.”
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