GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Of the 10 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives who voted to impeach President Donald Trump, two were from Michigan, both of them expressing disgust with Trump’s words before and after a violent riot at the U.S. Capitol last week.
The House on Wednesday approved an article of impeachment, alleging Trump incited insurrection. As the measure passed, Trump became the only president to be impeached twice; both happened within 13 months.
Longtime U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, was among the two West Michigan Republicans who voted to impeach, arguing Congress must send a clear message that disrupting the nation’s long history of a peaceful transfer of power is unacceptable.
“The final straw for me was obviously what happened last week,” Upton told News 8 in a Wednesday Zoom interview ahead of the vote. “But the president’s remarks were, in his words, ‘totally appropriate’ as he called these folks patriots as they were tearing down the Capitol, people were being killed, he saw a gallows that was constructed on the east lawn of the Capitol. And we now know that they wanted to kidnap (Vice President) Mike Pence, (Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi, execute both of them, as well as kidnap members of Congress and do the same there. This was a real threat to our democracy. All the states’ votes were certified by wide margins in the House and the Senate, two- and three-to-one margins. It’s over. And the president really did, as (Wyoming Rep.) Liz Cheney said, lit the flame to really see this violence move forward and try to undermine the very bedrock of our democratic institution.”
As the vote got underway, Upton tweeted the text of the oath of office he and other members of Congress take, in which they vow to “support and defend the Constitution … against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” It is the same oath the president took when he was sworn in four years ago.
In a statement posted to Twitter Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer, a freshman Republican from Grand Rapids, said he did not reach his decision lightly but that he ultimately believed “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.”
“With a heavy heart, I will vote to impeach President Donald J. Trump,” the statement concluded.
Meijer had been a member of the House for less than a week when a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 while Congress was attempting to certify the Electoral College vote in favor of President-elect Joe Biden, a Democrat. Meijer and his colleagues in the House and Senate were forced to flee the chamber floors to secured areas until law enforcement cleared the building and proceedings resumed.
In the wake of the riot, Meijer has become an outspoken critic of Trump. In his statement, he said Trump “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 any more.'” He goes on to say that Trump could have restored order but “shrank from leadership when our country needed it most.”
“This vote is not a victory,” his statement reads. “It isn’t a victory for my party, and it isn’t the victory the Democrats might think it is. I’m not sure it is a victory for our country. But it is a call to action for us to reflect on these events and seek a way to correct them.”
“It weighs on me heavily that Gerald Ford held this (House) seat for 25 years before he was elevated to the Presidency,” Meijer continued. “President Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon was a necessary step to move the nation past the wounds of Watergate, but it followed Nixon’s resignation and acceptance of responsibility. Since last week, the President has accepted no responsibility for the violence his rhetoric and actions inspired.”
Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, voted against impeachment, citing a rushed process that happened in a single week and jumped over traditional hearings in a House committee.
“If you read through the four pages (of the article of impeachment), and it’s not very long, four pages of this, it’s thin gruel, shall we say, as to the why they’re moving ahead with this,” Huizenga said in a Zoom interview while debate was ongoing. “Every time that there is a statement pointed out where you could view that as incendiary, there’s another one where he’s calling for peaceful protest. What we don’t know … is all the details yet and that’s why think this looks political. And short of declaring war, this is probably the most solemn thing that we can do here in the House of Representatives, and I’m not going to take that lightly.”
Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, also voted against impeachment, saying it was too divisive:
“With only a week to go in the President’s term, I oppose Speaker Pelosi’s ill-advised attempt to rush an impeachment resolution through the House of Representatives. All standard deliberative processes have been ignored, including a failure to hold any hearings, seriously examine evidence, or make the requisite case. The Senate cannot possibly be able to even begin considering the resolution until after the President leaves office. This act will only deepen the nation’s divisions at a time of heightened turmoil.
“America witnessed sickening violence at the U.S. Capitol last week that we must universally condemn. In wake of the mayhem, we cannot retreat to our partisan corners. In this moment, we should find ways to bridge the divide and commit to dialing back the political rhetoric. It is time to focus on a peaceful transition of power, move forward as a country, and prioritize the issues important to our constituents.”U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton; Jan. 13, 2021
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will not bring the U.S. Senate back to session early to hold an impeachment trial, which means there’s virtually no chance of it happening before Trump’s term is up Jan. 20.
“Last week, our nation experienced a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol inspired and encouraged by the current President of the United States. Our country cannot heal and move forward without accountability and justice. When the article of impeachment comes before the Senate, I intend to support removing Donald Trump from office.”U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing; Jan. 13, 2021
If and when that trial happens, Michigan’s U.S. senators — both of whom are Democrats — say they will vote to convict.
In a statement, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow said “accountability and justice” was necessary for the nation to move forward from the riot. Sen. Gary Peters agreed with Meijer that Trump “violated his oath of office” and said he must be held accountable.
“Donald Trump violated his oath of office. His reprehensible actions and rhetoric incited a violent, deadly attack on the Capitol and on our democracy. It is outrageous and unacceptable. We must hold him accountable for his actions and send a very clear signal for the future that this dangerous behavior can never be tolerated.
“Donald Trump is a danger to our country, unfit to be President, and – as I have said – he must be removed from office immediately. I’m disappointed Vice President Pence has indicated he will not be invoking the 25th Amendment, and I support the House taking the necessary step to impeach Mr. Trump. Donald Trump committed an impeachable offense, there must be severe consequences and he should never be eligible to hold federal office again.
“Importantly, we also cannot let these dangerous events deter us from the urgent priorities that Congress must address. We must take additional action to get this raging pandemic under control and provide more relief for struggling Michiganders and additional resources for continued distribution of vaccines. We must also ensure that President-elect Biden’s Administration can hit the ground running through confirmation hearings and votes on his Cabinet and other key roles. As incoming Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, it is now more critical than ever that the Department of Homeland Security have stable leadership to address the urgent and unprecedented threats our nation currently faces.”Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township; Jan. 13, 2021