On Wednesday afternoon, to the surprise of absolutely no one, the Democratic-controlled House voted to impeach President Donald Trump for his role in inciting a riot that led to the overrunning of the US Capitol just seven days ago.
I watched the full debate, combed through the vote and offered a few initial thoughts below.
* The 10: In the end, 10 Republicans voted to impeach Trump. They are: Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyoming), Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (Washington), Rep. John Katko (New York), Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Illinois), Rep. Fred Upton (Michigan), Rep. Dan Newhouse (Washington), Rep. Peter Meijer (Michigan), Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio), Rep. Tom Rice (South Carolina) and Rep. David Valadao (California).
There’s no obvious through-line for these “yes” votes. Meijer is in his first term and Gonzalez his second. But Upton is in his 17th term. Kinzinger and and Cheney have been outspoken critics of Trump. Rice and Katko have said little publicly about their thoughts on Trump.
And while Herrera Beutler and Valadao sit in competitive districts in a general election, Cheney and Newhouse represent comfortably Republican areas.
* Trump’s gambit to limit defections: Even as the House was debating the impeachment question — and in the immediate wake of several Republican House members announcing their plans to vote for impeachment — Trump released a statement, via Fox News, that urged “NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind.” It was a statement that elected Republicans had urged Trump to make for days, and it was (finally) done to stop the bleeding for the President and his party on the impeachment vote. Did it work? Hard to know for sure, but the relatively low number of Republicans who voted in favor of impeachment — some had suggested the number could go as high as 20 — suggests it just might have.
* A whole lotta Liz Cheney: The Wyoming Republican congresswoman didn’t speak on the floor of the House during the impeachment debate, but her statement Tuesday night announcing that she would support the impeachment of Trump was cited again and again by Democratic speakers as they sought to appeal to the consciences of their Republican colleagues. Meanwhile, several Republican members — most notably Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who led the GOP side during the impeachment debate — pushed for Cheney to be removed from her leadership position due to her stance on impeachment. “I think she’s totally wrong,” said Jordan.
* The Republican flip-flop: Just one week after 138 House Republicans (including the top two leaders in the House GOP) voted to object to the Electoral College results in Pennsylvania — despite zero evidence of fraud — the main argument against impeachment put forward by those same Republicans was that there is no reason to do so because Trump would be gone from office so soon. Uh, what?
* The temperature has NOT been turned down: For those wondering whether the siege on the Capitol might have soothed some of the partisan fires, you got your answer on Wednesday afternoon. And it was a decisive “no.” Newly elected Missouri Rep. Cori Bush (D) called Trump the “White Supremacist-in-Chief.” Speaker after speaker for Republicans blasted Democrats for an alleged double standard — citing comments made by Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters (California) that urged her backers to “push back on” Trump administration officials if they saw them in public.