Tiffany calls Congress “not serious.” Pocan says “we had to have accountability.”
Wisconsin’s Congressional representatives voted along party lines Wednesday afternoon as Donald Trump became the first-ever president to be impeached twice following his incitement of last week’s deadly insurrection at the United States Capitol.
The vote brought few surprises, despite the fact Trump, again repeating the lie that he won the Nov. 3 presidential election, told his supporters to “fight like hell” to stop the Congressional certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, an order that directly resulted in a riot that caused five deaths and likely endangered the lives of members of Congress.
The final vote was 232-197. No Democrat voted against impeachment, while 10 Republicans voted in favor. Four Republicans did not vote.
In Wisconsin, Democratic Reps. Gwen Moore, Mark Pocan, and Ron Kind voted to impeach Trump; Republican Reps. Tom Tiffany, Glenn Grothman, Mike Gallagher, Scott Fitzgerald, and Bryan Steil voted against.
Some of Wisconsin’s representatives gave speeches on the House floor before the vote.
“The president radicalized American citizens,” said Moore, who represents Milwaukee and some of its suburbs. “And as his vice president fled from a lynch mob, the speaker cowered, while people died, [Trump] watched with glee.”
Moore was referencing how some rioters chanted and jeered phrases like “Where’s Nancy?” and “Hang Mike Pence!” as they rampaged through the Capitol to hunt down and kill Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California). Many rioters were associated with white supremacist and extreme right-wing groups; some erected a noose and gallows outside the building.
“[Trump] is responsible for inciting the attacks on our democracy [when] he should have been the one person protecting it most,” said Pocan, who represents Madison and much of southern Wisconsin.
In a press conference after the vote, Pocan said the impeachment was “a relief.”
“In order to have the unity we all want, I think that we had to have accountability,” Pocan said.
He added, “I hope maybe one of the lessons learned out of all of this is, the best background for the president of the United States is not to be a reality show star.”
Grothman, who represents a large swath of east-central Wisconsin from Portage to Manitowoc, in a floor speech defended the many Trump supporters who attended the protest-turned-insurrection but did not enter the Capitol. Those who did not directly participate in the insurrection were misunderstood, Grothman said. He insinuated those people were simply racists, not insurrectionists.
“You don’t understand why they were here,” Grothman said. “They’re scared to death we’re going to go back to the days without Donald Trump of hundreds of thousands of people crossing this border every month. They’re scared to death that the majority party got here by teaming up with Black Lives Matter, funded by Marxists.”
Tiffany, who represents far northern Wisconsin, painted the impeachment as political theater and said it was “rubbing salt in the wounds of many Americans.”
“In the short time I have served in this body, one thing is clear: This is not a serious place,” Tiffany said.
Steil, Fitzgerald, and Gallagher did not give floor speeches.
Steil released a statement immediately following the vote, saying the “sham” impeachment “sets a horrible precedent” and “further divides the country.”
Now Trump’s fate lies in the Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said Wednesday he will not convene the Senate for an impeachment trial until Biden is sworn in and McConnell becomes the chamber’s minority leader.
A two-thirds vote to convict in the Senate after Trump’s term ends would, of course, not remove him from office, senators could still prevent Trump from ever seeking federal office again, cut off his pension payments, and disqualify him from lifetime Secret Service protection.
There appears to be a legitimate chance for enough Senate Republicans to vote to convict Trump, as many federal lawmakers are publicly or reportedly privately enraged by Trump’s insurrection and support the impeachment. McConnell himself privately backs impeachment, the New York Times reported Tuesday.