The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 232-197 to impeach President Donald Trump for a historic second time, charging him with “incitement of insurrection” over last week’s storming of the U.S. Capitol by a riotous mob of pro-Trump extremists.
Ten Republicans joined Democrats in making Trump the first U.S. president to be impeached twice, but the two congressmen representing Centre County were not among them.
U.S. Rep. Fred Keller, R-Kreamer, and U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township, both voted against impeachment.
“Impeachment is not the answer,” Keller wrote on Twitter. “With only days remaining in President Trump’s term, doing so further inflames tensions and sows even greater divisions among a nation that needs desperately to heal.
“Lawmakers must lead by example and find common ground on a path forward.”
In a statement, Thompson said that the violence at the Capitol — which left five dead, including a Capitol police officer — “was a gruesome and senseless display,” and that he was hopeful that Trump would encourage a “peaceful transition” for the swearing-in of President-elect Joe Biden.
But, he said, the “impromptu article of impeachment” ran counter to what is meant to be a deliberative process.
“There has not been an investigation, there have been no hearings, and we are seven days away from a new administration assuming the lead of our government,” Thompson said. “I do not believe impeachment is the appropriate course of action at this time and remain concerned that moving forward will only further sow seeds of division across the political landscape.”
Keller and Thompson were among eight Republican U.S. representatives who objected to the certification of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes for Biden, hours after the riot at the Capitol. Echoing claims made by other state Republican leaders they alleged Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar “circumvented” the state legislature’s constitutional authority to set election procedure and were aided by a “rogue” Pennsylvania Supreme Court, calling into question the integrity of the election over changes to mail ballot procedures.
Before the violent siege, Trump spoke to a crowd of thousands he had urged to come to Washington for a “Save America” rally where he continued his unsubstantiated claims that the election was “stolen” from him. Telling the crowd ‘very different rules’ apply ‘when you catch somebody in fraud,’ he said they would walk to the Capitol and ‘You have to show strength.”
“We fight like hell and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump told the crowd.
The president’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, suggested in his remarks at the rally “trial by combat” to settle the election.
“Thus incited by President Trump, members of the crowd he had addressed, in an attempt to, among other objectives, interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election, unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President, and Congressional personnel, and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts,” the House’s article of impeachment states.
The impeachment article said Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6 followed prior efforts in which he sought “to subvert and obstruct the certification of the results of the 2020 Presidential election,” including urging Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s victory.
“In all this, President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government,” it states. “He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of Government. He thereby betrayed his trust as President, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”
After the impeachment vote, Trump said in a video statement posted to the White House Twitter account that he “unequivocally,” condemns the violence that took place at the Capitol.
“Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country and no place in our movement,” Trump said.
“Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for. No true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence. No true supporter of mine could ever disrespect law enforcement or our great American flag. No supporter of mine could ever threaten or harass their fellow Americans. If you do any of these things you are not supporting our movement; you are attacking it ”
In another statement issued “in light of reports of more demonstrations,” Trump urged “that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind. 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.”