House Impeaches Trump; Here’s What Md. Members Said on the Floor

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) discusses impeachment on the House floor Wednesday evening. Screenshot from C-SPAN

Maryland’s congressional delegation voted along party lines as the U.S. House voted to impeach President Trump Wednesday night, making him the third president to be impeached in U.S. history. 

Trump was impeached on charges that he abused power and obstructed Congress. The charges surround allegations that Trump improperly pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rival in an effort to interfere with the 2020 U.S. presidential election. 

No House Republicans voted to adopt either impeachment article. Two House Democrats voted against both articles of impeachment — Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey. Van Drew is reportedly planning to switch parties to become a Republican.

Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) voted yes on the first article but against the obstruction of Congress article. Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard voted “present” on both articles.

Maryland’s delegation voted entirely along party lines.  Democratic Reps. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John P. Sarbanes, Anthony G. Brown, Steny H. Hoyer, David J. Trone and Jamie B. Raskin supported both impeachment articles. Republican Andrew P. Harris voted against both articles.

All but Trone spoke on the House floor Wednesday.

The vote came after a lengthy and heated debate on the House floor, as Democrats warned that Trump had trampled on the U.S. Constitution, while his GOP defenders accused the House majority of manufacturing a case for impeachment due to their disdain for Trump’s policies. 

“The founders’ great fear of a rogue or corrupt president is the very reason why they enshrined impeachment in the Constitution,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on the House floor ahead of the vote. “If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty. It is tragic that the president’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary. He gave us no choice.”

Only two other presidents had previously been impeached by the House: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Both of those presidents were acquitted by the Senate. 

Trump also appears to be headed for acquittal in the GOP-led Senate. A trial, in which House Democrats will argue their case before the upper chamber of Congress, is expected to begin next month. 

Some senators have been cautious about stating whether they’ll vote to remove Trump from office, arguing that they’ll be jurors in the trial and don’t want to prejudge the outcome. But not Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). 

McConnell told reporters Tuesday that he is “not at all impartial” on impeachment and that it is a “political process.”

As lawmakers prepared to vote on Wednesday, Trump wrote on Twitter: “SUCH ATROCIOUS LIES BY THE RADICAL LEFT, DO NOTHING DEMOCRATS. THIS IS AN ASSAULT ON AMERICA, AND AN ASSAULT ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!!”

Trump held a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Mich., on Wednesday night. “By the way, it doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached, the country is doing better than ever before. We did nothing wrong and we have tremendous support in the Republican Party like never before,” Trump said, according to The Washington Post.

Democrats, including some in districts won by Trump in 2016, streamed onto the House floor during the day-long debate on Wednesday to make their case for impeachment. 

Hoyer, the House majority leader, said that in his nearly 40 years in Congress under six presidential administrations, he never expected to “encounter such an obvious wrongdoing by a president of the United States. Nor did I expect to witness such a craven rationalization of presidential actions which have put our national security at risk, undermined the integrity of our elections and defied the constitutional authority of the Congress to conduct oversight.”

Hoyer also paid tribute to one of his predecessors, the late Rep. Lawrence J. Hogan Sr. (R-Md.), one of the few Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee who supported impeaching President Nixon in 1974.

Republicans, meanwhile, spent the debate accusing their Democratic colleagues of pursuing a political vendetta against the president, pointing frequently to statements Democrats had made supporting impeachment before the Ukraine investigation was launched. 

“The few Americans that are going to be watching this — because they know what the outcome is, we all know what the outcome is — they’re wondering why are we trying to negate the votes of 63 million Americans instead of talking about the things that Americans care about,” Harris said.

Democrats vehemently denied GOP attacks that they were pursuing impeachment because they hate Trump’s policies or dislike him personally. 

“I resent those who say this is about reversing the election,” Ruppersberger asserted. “This isn’t about whether or not you like Trump; it’s about upholding our Constitution. Allowing this conduct to go unquestioned sets a dangerous precedent.” 

One independent congressman, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, sided with Democrats to vote for both articles of impeachment. Amash, who helped found the conservative House Freedom Caucus, left the GOP earlier this year after calling for Trump’s impeachment. 

Trump’s “actions reflect precisely the type of conduct the framers of the Constitution intended to remedy through the power of impeachment, and it is our duty to impeach him,” Amash said Wednesday on the House floor. 

Here are remarks of Maryland’s other members on the House floor:

Brown 

“President Trump betrayed his oath. He abused his power, the immense power of the presidency. He threatened our elections by inviting foreign interference. He chose investigating a political rival over defending our national security. So today, we must use our power, the extraordinary power endowed by our Constitution and entrusted by the people, the power to impeach.” 

Raskin 

“American elections belong to the American people, not the American president and not foreign powers. No president may cheat the people by working with foreign governments to steal from us a free and fair election. And no president who attempts it may cover up that cheating by systematically obstructing Congress and our work. Article 2 of the Constitution does not authorize a president to do whatever he wants. The reason we have a Constitution is to keep government officials from doing whatever they want.” 

Sarbanes 

“Voting to impeach the president is a weighty decision. It is not something you reach for, it is something you’re brought to reluctantly, when the evidence presented can no longer be denied.” 

“The president’s actions compromised the national security of the United States, undermined the integrity of our democratic process and betrayed the trust of the American people.” 

“In soliciting foreign interference, President Trump took direct aim at the heart of our democracy. The American people should decide our elections, not a foreign country. As long as the president continues to invite foreign interference into our democracy, the integrity of the 2020 election remains at risk. The question is: Will Congress allow the president to place his personal interests above those of his country? I urge my colleagues in the House to join me in answering that question with a resounding no.” 

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