The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon impeached President Donald Trump for a second time, accusing him of inciting insurrection by urging on a mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol a week before.
Trump becomes the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice as only a handful of Republicans — including Reps. Peter Meijer of Grand Rapids and Fred Upton of St. Joseph — joined them in the historic rebuke of the chief executive.
“President Trump betrayed his oath of office by seeking to undermine our constitutional process, and he bears responsibility for inciting the insurrection we suffered last week,” Meijer, who has been in office a little more than a week, said on Twitter just before the vote was called. “With a heavy heart, I will vote to impeach.” Upton had announced Tuesday night he would support impeachment.
The vote of 232-197 sends the single article of impeachment, which is akin to an indictment, to the U.S. Senate for a trial, even though with less than a week to go before Trump leaves office, there is little chance that chamber will take up the accusation before then. Instead, the Senate is expected to take it up after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next Wednesday, when it could still consider whether to bar Trump from holding office again.
Michigan’s congressional delegation, evenly split between seven Democrats and seven Republicans was sharply divided on the question of impeaching Trump in the wake of the deadly and brutal attack on the Capitol last Wednesday. All the Democrats voted for impeachment but Republicans other than Meijer and Upton had been expected to vote against the measure.
At least five people died last Wednesday as Trump supporters stormed the Capitol and even many of the president’s supporters in Congress — including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. — said he clearly deserved some responsibility for fomenting the discord that led them to riot.
But McCarthy and others argued throughout the day that while the armed mob delayed the work of Congress for several hours in finalizing the Electoral College count for Biden over Trump’s baseless claims that the election had been corrupt, impeaching the president so close to his leaving office would only continue division in the country.
“I believe impeaching the president in such a short time frame to be a mistake,” McCarthy said. “No investigation has been completed. No hearings have been held.” Other Republicans argued that Trump had expected his followers to peacefully pressure Congress not to accept the outcome of the Nov. 3 election.
Democrats would not be persuaded, however, noting that Trump — who for two months had pressed unfounded claims that he had won the election and that the counts in several states, including Michigan, were fraudulent — had undermined a fair election and in doing so had led to the riot. During a rally before the unrest, he also called on supporters to march on the Capitol suggesting they would lose their country if they did not.
“For two months, Donald Trump used the biggest megaphone in the world to organize a campaign of outright lies to overturn a free and fair election,” said U.S. Rep. Andy Levin, D-Bloomfield Township. “He summoned and incited a mob of domestic terrorists to ‘fight like hell’ and sent them to ransack this Capitol.”
Levin was one of several Michigan Democrats, including Reps. Brenda Lawrence of Southfield, Haley Stevens of Rochester Hills, Dan Kildee of Flint Township and Rashida Tlaib of Detroit to speak on the House floor.
In her speech, Tlaib — who famously began her first term two years ago promising to impeach Trump — called him the “racist in chief” and said Republicans who had enabled him couldn’t justify their calls for unity now. “Those who incited an attack on the people’s house don’t get to talk about unity and healing,” she said. “They have stoked the fire and handed the gasoline to Donald Trump.”
Kildee said there was no question Trump had “incited a deadly attack.”
“If inciting an insurrection doesn’t warrant impeachment, nothing does.” Kildee said.
Only a handful of Republicans had been expected to join Democrats in the impeachment vote, though they included some key ones. Upton is the longest-serving member of the state’s congressional delegation and Meijer is quickly becoming well-known for decrying Trump’s attempts to convince his supporters they could overturn the election results.. Meanwhile, the No. 3 Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, had also called for Trump’s impeachment — a move which has led some to question whether she should remain in the party’s House leadership.
Meanwhile, another new member of Congress from Michigan, U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Bruce Township, put out a statement underscoring her decision to vote against impeachment. “Impeachment is a backwards looking tactic when we are all wanting to move our nation forward. I will not be supporting this divisive measure at a time when our country needs to heal,” she said.
In late 2019 Trump was impeached by the House after an investigation into his asking the Ukrainian president to conduct a probe into Biden. The Senate acquitted Trump of those articles of impeachment in early 2020.
This latest impeachment comes not only ahead of the inauguration but also concerns in Washington and state capitals about possible violence linked to Trump’s claims, which he has continued to press while saying he will permit the peaceful transfer of power.
On Wednesday, Trump issued a statement urging that there be no violence. “In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind,” he said, in the statement. “That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers.”
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: House impeaches Donald Trump a second time, Meijer and Upton vote in favor