2 Mich. Republicans join in bipartisan, historic 2nd Trump impeachment

President Donald J. Trump applauds the crowd, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, at the JACO Hangar in Bakersville, Calif. | Shealah Craigheadvia Flickr Public Domain
Updated, 6:13 p.m., 1/13/21

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House voted Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump for a historic second time, charging him with inciting violent rioters last week who rampaged through the U.S. Capitol, temporarily derailing the tally of presidential votes and leading to at least five deaths.

Nine of Michigan’s 14-member delegation voted to impeach — two Republicans and seven Democrats.

The 232-197 vote concluded a swift, truncated process in the House, with Democrats arguing that Trump still poses an imminent threat, even as he’s days away from leaving office. Ten Republicans joined every House Democrat in voting to send the impeachment article to the Senate.

U.S. Reps. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) and Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) were among those who voted to impeach the GOP president.

“President Trump betrayed his oath of office by seeking to undermine our constitutional process, and he bears responsibility for inciting the insurrection we suffered last week. With a heavy heart, I will vote to impeach President Donald J. Trump,” he said in a statement.

Michigan could have 9 House members vote to impeach Trump

Five Republicans from Michigan voted against impeachment, including three who voted after the insurrection to reject election results in two states: U.S. Reps. Tim Walberg (R-Tipton), Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) and Lisa McClain (R-Bruce Twp.). They were joined by U.S. Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland) and John Moolenaar (R-Midland).

All seven Democrats from Michigan voted yes: U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), Dan Kildee (D-Flint), Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield), Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.), Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills), Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) and Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly).

“I’ve called for the impeachment and removal of Donald Trump since the day I arrived in Washington, D.C.,” said Tlaib. “Donald Trump is a tyrant who has continued to endanger and bring harm upon the people of the United States, taking cruel joy in inflicting pain on our most vulnerable neighbors. Last week’s attack on the Capitol was the culmination of Trump’s destructive reign in this country and his unending assault on truth and reality. He must be removed and barred from ever holding public office again.”

“As white nationalists, unhinged conspiracy theorists, and other Trump loyalists continue to plot armed insurrection on social media platforms and the twice-impeached President insists he’s done nothing wrong, we cannot wait and hope a peaceful transition of power happens on January 20th. Trump and his supporters have already displayed that peace is nowhere in their minds. It’s time for the Senate to act and remove Donald Trump from office.”

U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills) said in a statement: “To turn a blind eye to the role that the President played inciting this violent insurrection would be an abdication of the Oath of Office I took as I was sworn into the 117th Congress, just a few days ago. I did not make this decision lightly, but I believe that President Trump is a threat to our democracy, and must be removed immediately and permanently barred from holding federal elected office. There must be consequences for his reckless and dangerous behavior. There is no unity without accountability. Tonight, the House took action to defend the Constitution, and it is my hope that the Senate will do the same. The future of our nation, and our democracy, depends on it.”

The Democrats all voted to impeach Trump in December 2019. Upton voted no and Meijer wasn’t in office. His predecessor, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (L-Cascade Twp.) left the party over his support for impeachment in July 2019 and later voted for it. He declined to run for reelection, but has said Trump deserved a second impeachment.

The vote sets up an impeachment trial in the Senate, expected to begin shortly before or potentially after President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Wednesday.

Democrats said they had to act quickly to impeach Trump. “We don’t have a minute to spare. He’s a clear and present danger to the people,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who was tapped to be the Democrats’ lead impeachment manager during the Senate trial.

While the Senate acquitted Trump in his first set of impeachment charges in February 2020, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reportedly has expressed private support for the new impeachment effort, as he seeks to distance the party from Trump, according to the New York Times and other news outlets.

The impeachment resolution accuses Trump of having “gravely endangered” U.S. security, arguing that his statements refusing to accept the election results and urging supporters to continue contesting the election directly led to the violence at the Capitol.

The rioters who unlawfully took over the Capitol were Trump supporters, many carrying flags with his name, having marched to Capitol Hill from a rally in which Trump directed them to “fight like hell.”

The measure also cites Trump’s phone call directing Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” votes to overturn Biden’s win in the state.

Multiple investigations opened into the death of U.S. Capitol Police officer in pro-Trump insurrection

Unlike the previous impeachment proceeding against Trump, the new push drew bipartisan support, even as some Republicans, such as Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan, who was among the “yes” votes, said they fear attempts on their lives as a result of voting yes.

Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, (R-Ohio), said he felt “compelled” to support impeachment, adding that Trump “abandoned his post.”

But other Republicans criticized the process as politically motivated, and rushed, and they claimed that the president was encouraging peaceful protests, not violence.

“Has any one of those individuals who brought violence on this Capitol been brought here to answer whether they did that because of our president?” asked Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.).

Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona warned Democrats that if they went forward with impeachment, it would only make Trump’s base stronger because “you have made him a martyr.”

“You don’t seek victory,” Biggs said, “but obliteration of your nemesis.”

Trump becomes 3rd president impeached by U.S. House

Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Lauren Boebert of Colorado sought to blame Democrats for last week’s violence, comparing the insurrection at the Capitol to the nationwide protests against police brutality last summer.

“The left has incited far more political violence,” Gaetz said, prompting boos from Democrats.

Rep. Cori Bush, a freshman Democrat from Missouri, said that if the president was not removed, it would hurt predominantly Black communities like hers.

“The 117th Congress must understand that we have a mandate to legislate in defense of Black lives,” Bush said. “The first step in that process is to root out white supremacy, starting with impeaching the white supremacist in chief.”

Democrats said Trump’s actions — his instructions to supporters, his delay in responding to requests for help, and his failure to take responsibility — are too grave to move on without a response.

“The president not only incited an insurrection against our government but has, in word and deed, led a rebellion,” said Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) “We cannot simply move past this or turn the page. To be able to survive as a functioning democracy, there has to be accountability.”

As the debate unfolded in the House, the surrounding hallways reflected the stark security changes enacted since last week’s mob mayhem.

Several thousand National Guardsmen were camped out in the hallways and the Capitol Rotunda, and lawmakers were directed to walk through metal detectors to get to the House floor, though some Republicans refused to do so.

U.S. Capitol on lockdown after pro-Trump crowd storms inside

The break-neck speed of the impeachment vote is not without precedent: In 1868, the House voted to impeach President Andrew Johnson just three days after he fired his war secretary, Edwin Stanton, in defiance of the law.

Trump is the only president to be impeached twice. In December 2019, the House passed two charges of obstructing Congress and abusing his power in relation to his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

During that last proceeding, it was clear that Trump would be acquitted in the Republican-controlled Senate. This time, the vote is a bit murkier.

No Senate Republicans have yet said they would vote to convict Trump, but two — including Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey — have called on him to resign.

Toomey, who is retiring in 2022, has said he believes Trump “committed impeachable offenses,” but so far has stopped short of saying that he would vote to convict Trump if the House does send over articles of impeachment.

The Senate is not scheduled to return to session until Jan. 19, the day before Biden is sworn in, but could do so soon if there’s agreement among Senate leadership. That has not happened yet.

If the Senate votes to convict the president, Trump will be barred from pursuing federal office again.

Ariana Figueroa
Ariana covers the nation's capital for States Newsroom. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections and campaign finance. Before joining States Newsroom, Ariana covered public health and chemical policy on Capitol Hill for E&E News. As a Florida native, she's worked for the Miami Herald and her hometown paper, the Tampa Bay Times. Her work has also appeared in the Chicago Tribune and NPR. She is a graduate of the University of Florida.
Laura Olson
Laura covers the nation's capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom, a network of nonprofit outlets that includes Michigan Advance. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections, and campaign finance.
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Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.