WASHINGTON – Ten Republicans — including Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House GOP leader — voted to impeach President Donald Trump Wednesday over the deadly insurrection at the Capitol. The GOP votes were in sharp contrast to the unanimous support for Trump among House Republicans when he was impeached by Democrats in December 2019.
Cheney, whose decision to buck Trump sparked an immediate backlash within the GOP, was the only member of her party's leadership to support impeachment, which was opposed by 197 Republicans.
"There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” said Cheney, whose father, Dick Cheney, served as vice president under George W. Bush. The younger Cheney has been more critical of Trump than other GOP leaders, but her announcement hours before Wednesday's vote nonetheless shook Congress.
Trump “summoned” the mob that attacked the Capitol, “assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,'' Cheney said, adding, “Everything that followed was his doing.” Trump could have immediately intervened to stop his supporters from rioting but did not, she noted. The riot resulted in five deaths, including that of a Capitol police officer.
Nine other House Republicans also supported impeachment: Reps. John Katko of New York; Adam Kinzinger of Illinois; Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio; Fred Upton and Peter Meijer of Michigan; Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse of Washington state; Tom Rice of South Carolina; and David Valadao of California.
Rice's vote may have been the most surprising. His coastal district strongly backed Trump in the election and he voted last week to object to certification of electoral votes in Arizona and Pennsylvania. "I have backed this president through thick and thin for four years. I've campaigned for him and voted for him twice. But this utter failure is inexcusable,'' Rice said in a statement after the vote.
While he's not sure if Trump's Jan. 6 speech amounted to incitement of a riot, “any reasonable person could see the potential for violence,” Rice said. "It is only by the grace of God and the blood of the Capitol Police that the death toll was not much, much higher.”
Rice said he was disappointed that Trump has failed to show remorse over the riot or address the nation to ask for calm. After the impeachment vote, Trump released a video calling on his supporters to remain peaceful amid concerns about additional violence in the days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.