The House of Representatives voted to impeach former President Donald Trump on January 9th, 2021. Ten Republican members of the House voted to impeach Trump, while every single Democratic member of the House voted to impeach as well. However, a New York Times opinion piece did make the point that we may need to be forgiving to the people who voted not to impeach, because many lived in very heavy Republican places. To vote against a very popular president among Republicans would pretty much seal the fact that they would not be reelected, as many Republicans would hold this against them, and Democrats would appreciate it.
The reason that Trump was up for impeachment was because on Wednesday, January 6th, the President of the United States held a rally, one that will most likely be his last as president! In that rally, he spoke to voters about the election, and the results of the election. He claimed that the election results were fraudulent, and that the Democratic party somehow managed to go behind the backs of everyone but him and cheat to help Joe Biden win the election.
And he said that since this was the day that Congress was certifying the election results, his supporters should go down to the Capitol building. He said that they should march and protest until they stopped the election from being verified. He implied that since it was a fraudulent election, this was an acceptable thing to do. However, what they did was not acceptable! They attacked the Capitol, they killed a police officer and four Trump supporters. For the first time in more than 140 years, a Confederate flag was raised on a government building. And the lawmakers of the US were very nearly hurt.
What took place was unlawful and it was viewed as an insurrection, or a group of people trying to overthrow the government. The leader of this insurrection was called forward to be prosecuted. Since Donald Trump told his supporters to go and storm the Capitol at his rally, he was the leader and he had incited this violence that took place. So he was called forward to be the only president in the history of our country to be impeached twice!
Former President Donald Trump was convicted by the House of Representatives to be impeached only three days after the deadly riots at the Capitol took place. One of the ten Republicans who did vote to impeach Trump included Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming’s at large district. This was the biggest vote to impeach from the House, because she is the third ranked Republican leader in the House and her state went for Trump 70% to 27% in the 2020 elections. Doing this was a huge statement for her and the Republican party, because she was willing to most likely sacrifice her seat in congress for justice.
Representative Tom Rice also voted to impeach Trump. He represents South Carolina’s 7th district, and this was a major surprise to many of his supporters, because he comes from a very pro Trump district, where Trump won the 2020 election 59% to 40%. This also came as a shock because Rice has backed the president on many issues, and did not vote to impeach during Trump’s first trial back in January of 2020. Rice tweeted after his vote, saying, “I have backed this President through thick and thin for four years. I campaigned for him and voted for him twice. But, this utter failure is inexcusable.”
The third Republican to vote against Trump was Dan Newhouse, from the 4th district of Washington state, and Dan Kinzinger, of the 16th district in Illinois. Neither of these votes came as much of a shock, as both have supported very few of the president’s ideas, saying that he does not represent what the Republican party stands for. Despite the fact that both of their districts went for Trump by more than 15% in the general election, they voted to impeach.
Two Republican representatives from the traditionally Democratic states of California and New York also voted to impeach: John Katko of the 24th district of New York, and David Valadao of the 21st district of California. Both of their states went for the Democratic candidate by a large margin in the 2020 election, so they were not jeopardizing their seats as much as others. However it is a question of their district, and while their both districts are pretty much split down the middle, there is a question of whether they will be re-elected in 2022.
Herrera Beutler of the 3rd district of Washington and Peter Meijer of the 3rd district of Michigan also voted to impeach. However like Katko and Valadao, they did not jeopardize their seats as much as Tom Rice did, because they both represent districts who went to Trump by only 3 points or fewer.
The last two Republicans who voted to impeach Trump were former NFL wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez, from the 6th district of Ohio, and Fred Upton from Michigan’s 6th district. Both of these votes came as a bit of a surprise, because Gonzalez represents a district that went for Trump by 15%, while Upton has served in the House of Representatives since 1987, and voting to impeach Trump could jeopardize his reelection in 2021. While Michigan did go to Biden, his district did not, however Trump only won 51% to 47%, so there is a possibility of his reelection.
The reason that these leaders and backbones in the Republican party were willing to vote to impeach is because in many ways, they may not be jeopardizing their seats in the House! Many lifelong Republicans voted against Trump because they believed that Trump did not represent the Republican party. So, even if Trump won only by a small margin in their district, it is likely that there are about 5 percent more Republicans who simply voted against Trump. However we will see if this changes in 2022!
Then after the House voted to impeach Trump, it was time for Trump’s trial in the Senate. In the impeachment trial senators voted to say whether or not they thought that Trump was guilty of his charge.
If the Senate voted to convict Trump, he never would be allowed to ever run for a public office again, which would mean that he was not fit to serve or represent any area in the United States. However this created a huge problem inside the Republican party. While many senators believed Trump was guilty as charged, they knew if he was guilty it would hurt Republicans in future elections.
The Senate needed a ⅔ majority to convict Trump, which meant that since the Senate was split 50-50, it was likely that Trump would not be convicted. This is indeed what happened, as only 57 senators voted to convict, 10 fewer than the needed 67. However what this did mean was that 7 Republican senators voted to convict Trump. In his last impeachment trial in the Senate, only Mitt Romney voted to convict Trump in his first charge of collusion with Ukraine. The vote was split on party lines when they voted on the second count. All 53 Republicans voted to clear Trump of the charges, while the 47 Senate Democrats for 2020 voted to convict.
The stark difference here, it seemed, was the fact that 7 instead of just 1 Republican senator voted to convict Trump. It seems that inside of the Republican party, Trump has drawn a dividing line. There are some Republican senators who support the Republican and democratic ideals and other Republivan senators who are willing to do anything to claim that they won an election, even when it was a clear loss.
The biggest upset vote from a Republican senator to impeach Donald Trump was that of North Carolina’s Richard Burr. The reason that it was such a shock when he voted to impeach Trump was because he originally opposed the second impeachment trial, saying it was unconstitutional. He later said in an interview, “I did not make this decision lightly, but it seems that this is what needs to be done.” Burr, who has served since 2005, said that this would be his last term, and only a day later, he was censured by the North Carolina Republican party in a unanimous vote. He is the only Republican senator who voted for conviction who has an election next year; however, he is retiring.
Bill Cassidy from Louisiana was also a bit of a surprise. However he talked about it and said that it was clear that Trump was guilty, and went into detail on ABC news, saying “it was clear that [Trump] wished that lawmakers be intimidated while they counted electoral votes, and that Trump didn’t act quickly to dissuade the violent mob.” He too was censured by the Louisiana Republican party the same day he voted to convict. He does not face reelection until 2026, and won his state by more than 40% in the last election, an incredible margin of victory.
Two female Republican senators also voted to impeach, Susan Collins being one of them. Collins is widely known as often being the deciding vote in important decisions because even though she is a registered Republican, she often votes with Democrats on big issues, such as the approval of Amy Coney Barrett to be a Supreme Court justice. In a statement she said, “This impeachment trial is not about any single word uttered by President Trump on Jan. 6, 2021, it is instead about President Trump’s failure to obey the oath he swore on January 20, 2017. His actions to interfere with the peaceful transition of power — the hallmark of our Constitution and our American democracy — were an abuse of power and constitute grounds for conviction.” She, like Cassidy, is not up for reelection until 2026, and has won 5 terms before, so it is likely she will continue to win.
Lisa Murkowski, Alaska’s female senator, also voted to convict Trump. She is up for reelection next year, however Alaska followed in the footsteps of Maine recently and started using rank choice voting, where every candidate is on the ballot for the primary, and the top four candidates advance to the general election, increasing her chances of winning. Murkowski released a statement, saying, “The evidence presented at the trial was clear: President Trump was watching events unfold live, just as the entire country was…Even after the violence had started, as protestors chanted ‘Hang Mike Pence’ inside the Capitol, President Trump, aware of what was happening, tweeted that the Vice President had failed the country.”
Ben Sasse from Nebraska was also one to vote for conviction. He said that he voted with his conscience. He won his election by a reasonable margin this past year, and is not up until 2026. He said that he voted to convict because in his first speech as senator in 2015, he vowed that if a president, no matter their party, exceeded their powers, he would vote to convict them and remove them from office, and he could not go back on that now. He has spoken out strongly against Trump in the months before the election, saying it was bad to have politics revolve around one person.
Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania is also a bit of a shocker, because he had voted for President Trump and sided with him on many issues; however, it seems that now, Trump had taken it too far. Toomey said in a statement, “As a result of President Trump’s actions, for the first time in American history, the transfer of presidential power was not peaceful,” he said. “A lawless attempt to retain power by a president was one of the founders’ greatest fears motivating the inclusion of the impeachment authorities in the U.S. Constitution.” He also represents a state where Trump lost in the 2020 election, as Pennsylvania was the state that won Biden the election, and he announced he will not be running for Senate again in 2022.
The final person to vote against Trump comes as no surprise: Mitt Romney. He has often harshly criticized Trump, and he was the only Republican senator to vote to impeach Trump in his impeachment proceedings of January 2020. He released a statement saying, “President Trump attempted to corrupt the election by pressuring the Secretary of State of Georgia to falsify the election results in his state…President Trump incited the insurrection against Congress by using the power of his office to summon his supporters to Washington on January 6th and urging them to march on the Capitol during the counting of electoral votes.” Romney represents Utah, and they went for Trump in 2020, by 58% to 40%, and he does plan to run again in 2024.
A shocker as it was that so many Republican senators would turn their backs on a president who represents their own party. Yet, it was not enough, as Trump held office until January 20th, 2021. Democratic leaders, like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are still trying to find ways to bar Trump from running for public office again, because of the disaster of his first term, after impeachment and conviction failed them! How do you feel about the impeachment of Donald Trump?