U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer, R-Grand Rapids, announced he will vote to impeach President Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week.
Meijer released a statement as the House debated Wednesday, saying Trump betrayed his oath of office by undermining the 2020 presidential election. Meijer, who was inside the House chambers when a pro-Trump mob broke into the Capitol and assaulted police, said Trump accepted no responsibility for the violence his words inspired.
“I believe the article of impeachment to be accurate,” Meijer said. “The president betrayed his oath of office by seeking to undermine our constitutional process, and he bears responsibility for inciting the violent acts of insurrection last week. With a heavy heart, I will vote to impeach President Donald J. Trump.”
Meijer joins U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, as the only Republican members of Michigan’s House delegation who committed to supporting the impeachment charge. All seven of Michigan’s Democratic representatives said they would vote to impeach the president.
Lawmakers are voting Wednesday evening on a single charge of impeachment. Trump would be the first president to be impeached twice if it passes.
House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy opposes impeachment but said Trump “bears responsibility” for the attack on Congress. Trump should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding, McCarthy said, but the Republican leader said voting to impeach Trump a week before he will leave office would “further fan the flames” of division.
Several Republicans who made floor speeches Wednesday warned that impeaching Trump would not allow the country to heal. Others compared Trump’s remarks to statements Democrats made supporting protests against his administration’s policies.
House Democrats had attempted to persuade Vice President Mike Pence and members of Trump’s Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and find the president unfit for office. The House passed a non-binding resolution asking Pence to use the 25th Amendment, though the vice president said he didn’t believe “that such a course of action is in the best interests of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution.”
In a Tuesday evening floor speech opposing the resolution, U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Bruce Township, compared his incitement of riots to statements made by Democrats against Trump’s child separation policy in 2018.
“Impeachment only incites more division,” McClain said Tuesday.
Meijer said he wrestled with the division impeachment will cause but ultimately felt Trump must be held accountable. Meijer said Trump misled millions of supporters with claims of a stolen election and encouraged supporters to “fight like hell.”
The congressman said Trump’s remarks in a video released during the Capitol riots expressed admiration for the mob “while Congress was still under attack.” Five people died in the chaos, including a Capitol Police officer and a woman shot by police, and a second Capitol Police officer died by suicide after the riots.
Congress reconvened hours later to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. He will be inaugurated on Jan. 20.
Trump briefly addressed the Jan. 6 riots during an appearance at the southern border in Texas Tuesday. The president said a mob stormed the Capitol and “trashed the halls of government,” but did not address his role in stoking tensions about the election outcome.
“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.
Representatives delivered floor speeches for several hours Wednesday before a vote on the single article of impeachment was held. No Michigan Republicans spoke.
U.S. Rep. Andy Levin, D-Bloomfield Township, said Trump spent two months organizing a campaign of “outright lies to overturn the election, then summoned a mob of domestic terrorists to ransack the Capitol.
“It was a grotesque orgy of deadly white supremacism, antisemitism and strongman rule,” Levin said.
U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, said it’s time to impeach the “racist in chief.”
“Those who incited an attack on the people’s house do not get to talk about healing and unity,” she said. “They have torn this country apart.”
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