Michigan, Ohio Republicans explain votes to impeach Trump

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Reps. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) became the seventh and eighth Republicans to announce they would vote to impeach President Trump on Wednesday over his role in last week’s violent Capitol Hill riot.

Meijer and Gonzalez both pointed to Trump’s remarks to a swarm of supporters before the riot last Wednesday, telling them “you have to show strength” and “if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore” as Congress certified the Electoral College results. The mob then rioted on Capitol Hill, resulting in at least five deaths, including that of a Capitol Police officer.

“There was no … courage from our President who betrayed and misled millions with claims of a ‘stolen election’ and encouraged loyalists that ‘if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.’ The one man who could have restored order, prevented the deaths of five Americans, including a Capitol Police officer, and avoided the desecration of our Capitol shrank from leadership when our country needed it most,” Meijer said.

“The President of the United States helped organize and incite a mob that attacked the United States Congress in an attempt to prevent us from completing our solemn duties as prescribed by the Constitution. In doing so, five people have died – including a Capitol Police Officer – many more have been injured, and our democracy has been shaken,” said Gonzalez.

“When I consider the full scope of events leading up to January 6th including the president’s lack of response as the United States Capitol was under attack, I am compelled to support impeachment,” Gonzalez concluded. 

The dual statements, which were issued within 15 minutes of each other just before the House voted to impeach the president for a second time with a total of 10 Republican votes, underscored GOP support for a single article of impeachment accusing the president of “willfully inciting violence against the Government of the United States.” 

Among the Republicans who have came out in support of impeachment are Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), the No. 3 House Republican. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Wednesday that he believes Trump bears some blame for last week’s mayhem but opposed impeachment. 

Republicans had been divided over the prospect of impeachment as they try to find some way to reprimand Trump for the riots while also maintaining the support of a party base that still broadly backs the president.

Meijer, who has emerged as one of a handful of freshman GOP House members willing to criticize the president, echoed concerns of some colleagues that impeaching Trump so close to the end of his term could further divide the nation but that he believes Trump’s actions nevertheless warrant impeachment. 

“I have wrestled with the division this vote will cause,” he said. “I wrestled with the precedent it will establish and I have concerns with due process. I have wrestled with whether impeachment, an inherently political process, is a meaningful mechanism of accountability for the seriousness of the President’s actions.” 

“But today, my job is to apply my best judgement to the article of impeachment that is on the floor of the US Congress. With the facts at hand, I believe the article of impeachment to be accurate.”

Trump was impeached in late 2019 over his efforts to leverage U.S. military aid to Ukraine to pressure Kiev to investigate now-President-elect Joe Biden, though no House Republicans joined that effort. Trump on Wednesday became the first president in history to be impeached twice.

No senator has come out in support of convicting Trump over the new charge. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) voted to convict Trump on one count in 2020. 

Trump defended the remarks he made last week, telling reporters Tuesday they were “totally appropriate.”

Tags Anthony Gonzalez Donald Trump Impeachment in the United States Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy Liz Cheney Mitt Romney Peter Meijer
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