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Why 10 Republicans voted to impeach President Trump

Liz Cheney
Posted at 4:24 PM, Jan 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-13 19:24:36-05

Unlike the 2019 impeachment of President Donald Trump, Democrats were not entirely alone this time around. While the 2019 impeachment failed to garner a single GOP vote in the House, 10 Republicans voted to impeach the president on Wednesday.

Liz Cheney, R-Wy., was the most notable member in the group of 10 who voted to impeach Trump. She represents the entire state of Wyoming, which was a state Trump carried by a two-to-one margin in 2020. She is also the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and is the third ranking member of the GOP caucus.

Joining Cheney from the GOP caucus were Reps. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio, Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., Peter Meijer, R-Mich., Fred Upton, R-Mich., Tom Rice, R-SC., John Katko, R-NY, Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., and David Valadao, R-Calif.

The House voted to impeach the president on one count of inciting last week’s riot at the US Capitol, which resulted in five deaths. Trump’s comments were criticized universally by Democrats, and by a number of Republicans, including some who opted not to vote for the impeachment.

“You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong,” Trump said moments before the rally ended and his supporters mobbed the Capitol.

Historical significance

Impeachment votes have generally not been bipartisan affairs. There have only been four instances of a president being impeached. Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton are the only other presidents to be successfully impeached. President Richard Nixon resigned before facing an impeachment vote, however.

When Johnson was impeached, not a single member of Johnson’s Democratic Party voted to impeach him. Clinton’s impeachment garnered ayes from five Democrats.

As the US Senate has the duty of convicting and removing from office, prior to Trump’s 2019 impeachment, no senator from the president’s same party had voted to convict a president. That changed during Trump’s first impeachment when Sen. Mitt Romney broke with the rest of his party and convicted Trump on one of the two articles against him.

The floodgates opened on Tuesday

For several days, there was speculation on whether any GOP members would break ranks and vote in favor of impeachment. It was not until early Tuesday evening when Katko and Cheney put out statements at roughly the same time. By the end of the night, Katzinger and Upton announced they too would vote for impeachment.

Some members didn’t make their vote known until during the vote. One of those is Gonzalez, who is a former NFL wide receiver turned member of Congress.

“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,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “In doing so, five people have died - including a Capitol Police Officer - many more have been injured, and our democracy has been shaken. The Vice President and both chambers of Congress had their lives put in grave danger as a result of the President's actions in the events leading up to and on January 6th. During the attack itself, the President abandoned his post while many members asked for help, thus further endangering all present. These are fundamental threats not just to people's lives but to the very foundation of our Republic.”

Newhouse was another who came out on Wednesday to vote in favor of impeachment.

“These articles of impeachment are flawed, but I will not use process as an excuse. There's no excuse for President Trump's actions. The president took an oath to defend the constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Last week, there was a domestic threat at the door of the Capitol and he did nothing to stop it,” Newhouse said.

197 Republicans vote in opposition of impeachment

What did not come as a surprise was that Trump had a lot of support in the House, although his support was much more muted than it was the last time he was impeached. While some members gave a full-throated defense of the president, many denounced Trump’s actions and comments, but complained about the process of the impeachment.

"The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action by President Trump, accept his share of responsibility, quell the brewing unrest and ensure President-elect Biden is able to successfully begin his term. And the president's immediate action also deserves congressional action, which is why I think a fact finding commission and essential resolution would be prudent. Unfortunately, that is not where we are today.”