Rep. Peter Meijer on MSNBC, Jan. 14, 2021 | Screenshot

Freshman U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) said Thursday that he and his colleagues are taking safety measures like buying body armor, but he didn’t let threats factor into his vote to impeach President Donald Trump Wednesday for inciting the U.S. Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6.

Meijer was one of 10 Republicans joining all 222 Democrats — including seven from Michigan — in voting for Trump’s second impeachment. U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) also voted yes, while five other Michigan Republicans voted no.

Asked on MSNBC what the moment was that tipped him into voting for impeachment, Meijer said, “I would say the moment came when the president continued to fail to take any sense of accountability or acknowledge that he may have been responsible, or even at least partly responsible, for the horrible events we saw on Jan. 6. This has been a thing for many of us, especially those who decided to vote for impeachment — you know, one of the worst weeks of our lives one of the hardest posts we’ve ever had to take. I’ve been talking to a number of colleagues, [who] I mean, just felt physically nauseous; I mean, this is not how we wanted this to go down.

“We wanted to make sure that there was accountability, but this is just a horrible moment and the reaction has been surprising; some corners expressing support. But also, you know, and I feel terrible about this —constituents who feel who feel greatly disappointed. At the end of the day, this was a vote of conscience, and I believe that in order to have accountability. We first must reckon with what happened and that is why I voted to support impeachment.”

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Anchor Hallie Jackson noted that there have been reports that Republicans have gotten death threats ahead of the impeachment vote. She asked Meijer if he received any death threats if that factored in his decision.

“We’re still sifting through a lot of the information. To answer a question, that did not factor in my decision. I think you have to set that aside. I don’t believe in giving an assassin’s veto, an insurrectionist’s veto, a heckler’s veto. You know, if we let that guide decisions, then you’re cowering to the mob. I mean, that’s the definition of terrorism is trying to achieve a political end using violence. When it comes to my family’s safety, that’s something that we’ve been planning for preparing for, taking appropriate measures,” Meijer said.

He added, “I have colleagues who are now traveling with armed escorts out of the fear for their safety. Many of us are altering our routines, working to get body armor, which is a reimbursable purchase that we can make. It’s sad that we have to get to that point, but you know, our expectation is that someone may try to kill us.”

Meijer was asked if he’s purchasing bulletproof vests, altering his route and trying to get armed security.

“I am,” he said. “We’re obviously trying to keep a very low profile. I actually spent a couple of years in Afghanistan as a safety adviser to humanitarian aid organizations and so conducting those risk assessments trying to take mitigating measures, lowering one’s profile for safety and security purposes — that’s what I’ve done professionally.

“And so that’s something we’re all kind of working together because obviously we saw what happened on Jan. 6 and the fact that there are 20,000 National Guardsmen in DC right now — there is a feeling that there is not control here and we don’t know what’s going to happen next. We weren’t expecting for the Capitol get overrun for the first time in 200 years. And so in this unprecedented environment, with an unprecedented degree of fear, of divisiveness, of the hatred, we have to account for every scenario.”

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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.