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Ten Republicans crossed President Trump on Wednesday and voted to accuse him of “inciting rebellion.”
It was a historic vote and one that came exactly a week after a pro-Trump mob besieged the U.S. Capitol after attending a Trump rally at the Ellipse outside the White House. The Capitol was searched and occupied for hours, and eventually five Americans died and many others were wounded as a result.
The 10 House members who voted to accuse Trump do not cut a single profile. They come from a range of districts, from coast to coast, some of which represent places where Trump won easily in 2020, while others have more moderate seats.
This vote could expose some of them to potential primary challenges from the right as well as possible security threats, but for all of them, Trump had simply gone too far. Several House Republicans said threats against them and their families were factors that weighed in on their decisions about whether to prosecute this president.
Ten out of 211 Republicans in this House are hardly an overwhelming two-party vote, and it’s clear that most Republicans’ sympathies are still with Trump – and his eager base of supporters. But the 10 represent something significant – most members of a president’s party who voted for his accusation in American history.
Who are the 10?
Here they are in order by most Trump districts:
1. Rep. Liz Cheney, Wyoming by and large: Trump won Wyoming 70% to 27% and she is the third-ranked leader in Parliament. So for her to not just vote for accusation, but issue a stinging reprimand, is quite the step. Cheney was unequivocal in his statement, saying that Trump “convened this mob, gathered mob and lit the flame in this attack.” She called what Trump did “the biggest betrayal” of an American president ever.
2. Rep. Tom Rice, South Carolina 7th Congress District: This is one that no one saw coming. The congressman who has served since 2013 comes from a beautiful Trump district (Trump won it 59% to 40%), and there was no sign that he would do this in advance. Even during his vote, Twitter was on fire with speculation that Rice had cast the wrong vote. It turns out he threw it exactly as he wanted. Later Wednesday, Rice explained, “I have supported this president through thick and thin for four years. I fought for him and voted for him twice. But this complete failure is not forgivable.”
I have supported this President through thick and thin for four years. I fought for him and voted for him twice. But this complete error cannot be excused. Https://t.co/SCWylYEER0
– Congressman Tom Rice (@RepTomRice) January 13, 2021
3. Rep. Dan Newhouse, Washington 4th: Trump won this central Washington state district by a practical margin, 58% to 40%. But for Newhouse, who has served since 2015 and has not been a prominent member, it was clear – “The mob was inflamed by the language and misinformation of the President of the United States … A vote against accusation is a vote to validate unacceptable violence” and “to tolerate President Trump’s passivity. “
4. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Illinois ’16.: Kinzinger’s decision was probably the least surprising on this list. Despite coming from a district, Trump won 57% to 41%, the Air Force veteran has recently been openly opposed to Trump’s behavior. He said Trump “encouraged this uprising” and “if these actions – the Article II branch inciting a deadly revolt against the Article I branch” are not prosecuted, then what is an unmanageable offense? ”
5. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, Ohio’s 16th: Gonzalez, a former NFL receiver, is in his second term in Congress. Trump won his district by 15 points, but Gonzalez was unequivocal: Trump, he said, “helped organize and encourage a mob that attacked the U.S. Congress in an attempt to prevent us from completing our solemn duties as provided for in the Constitution.” . ” He added that during the attack, Trump “gave up his position … and thus further jeopardized everyone present.”
6. Rep. Fred Upton, Michigans 6 .: Upton has been working since 1987. He comes from a more moderate district. Trump won it only 51% to 47%. He has good relations with Democrats, including President-elect Biden, and even has #WearYourMask in his Twitter biography. Upton said he would have preferred a two-part no-confidence vote that would disrupt the next administration, “but,” he said, “it’s time to say it’s enough.” He also cited Trump’s efforts “to prevent the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next.”
7. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, Washington 3 .: Herrera Beutler was swept in with the Tea Party wave in 2010, but her district is moderate. Trump won it only 51% to 47%. Herrera Beutler became prominent several years ago for having given birth to a child three months early, born without kidneys and a rare syndrome. Her daughter, Abigail, became the first to survive the often fatal condition. The now-mother of three and congresswoman from the southwestern Washington state declared on the floor of the House in her voice of accusation, “I do not choose sides, I choose truth.”
8. Rep. Peter Meijer, Michigan’s 3 .: Meijer is a freshman who won the election in this moderate district with 53% of the vote previously held by Justin Amash. Amash is the former Republican-independent who voted for Trump’s accusation in 2019. Meijer, a West Point graduate who served in Afghanistan, is a social conservative supporter of restrictions on abortion rights and against restrictions on gun rights and religious freedoms. But he said Trump showed no “courage” and “betrayed millions with allegations of a” stolen election. “” He added: “The one man who could have restored order prevented the death of five Americans including a Capitol police officer and avoided the desecration of our Capitol, cut off from leadership when our country needed it most.”
9. Rep. John Katko, New York 24th: Katko is a moderate from an evenly distributed moderate district. A former federal prosecutor said of Trump: “It cannot be ignored that President Trump encouraged this uprising.” He also noted that when the uprising took place, Trump refused to “reject it and endanger countless lives.”
10. Rep. David Valadao, California 21: Southern California Congressman represents a majority-Latino district, Biden won, 54% to 44%. Valadao won the election for this seat in 2012 before losing it in 2018 and winning it back last fall. He is the rare case of a member of Congress declaring his willingness to work with the other party. On his vote for indictment, he said: “President Trump was undoubtedly a driving force in the catastrophic events that took place on January 6.” He added: “His encouraging rhetoric was un-American, heinous and absolutely an unmanageable offense.”
Opening of the Senate door
The 10 who voted with the Democrats to accuse Trump could provide a degree of coverage and open the door a little wider for Republicans in the Senate to vote to convict Trump. Mitt Romney of Utah was the only Republican senator who voted to convict Trump in 2020.
This time there will be more. Some Republican senators have called on Trump to resign, and even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he is indecisive at this point.
Trump’s indictment does not lead to his removal – even if he is convicted – because of the timeline. The Senate is adjourned until January 19th. The next day, Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president. But there is another sanction that the Constitution allows as a result of a Senate conviction that may appeal to some Republican senators – banning Trump from holding “office” again.
While there is some debate about the definition of “office” in the Constitution, and whether it would apply to the election of a president or even Congress, that kind of public reprimand would send a strong message – that Republicans are ready to move on from Trumpism .
Some ambitious Republican senators have never been as aboard the Trump train as the more feverish GOP members of Parliament, and they may be open to judging Trump. But their ambition cuts two ways – on the one hand, opens a voting lane to ban Trump a lane to wear the Republican cloak in 2024 and be the party’s new standard bearer; but on the other hand, it has the potential to alienate many of the 74 million who voted for Trump and whose votes they need.
It is a long shot that Trump would eventually be convicted because 17 Republicans would have to join the Democrats to get the 2/3 majority needed for a conviction. But it is becoming clearer that a majority in the Senate will vote to judge him, reflecting the number of Americans who are for impeach have rejected the job Trump has done and the results of the 2020 presidential election.