- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Rep. Elissa Slotkin cast her vote Wednesday in favor of impeachment knowing it may well make her a one-term congresswoman in her GOP-leaning Michigan district.

But she linked arms with her party’s leadership and leaped anyway, saying she had a duty to her oath of office.

Across the aisle was Rep. Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican who has built a reputation as one of her party’s rising moderate stars, unafraid of bucking President Trump when she desires. But she stuck with Mr. Trump on the biggest vote of his tenure, opposing impeachment and calling the case against him deeply flawed.

“From the very beginning, this process was unprecedented, partisan and filled with abuses of power,” Ms. Stefanik said.

The most partisan House impeachment process in history careened to an end in predictable fashion Wednesday, resulting in the most partisan impeachment vote in history and leaving lawmakers who consider themselves the political middle wondering what happened.



Two Democrats — Reps. Jefferson Van Drew of New Jersey and Collin Peterson of Minnesota — joined all Republicans in voting against the first article of impeachment accusing Mr. Trump of “abuse of power.” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who is running for her party’s presidential nomination in 2020, voted “Present.”

Rep. Jared Golden, Maine Democrat, joined Mr. Van Drew and Mr. Peterson in opposing the second article accusing Mr. Trump of “obstruction of Congress.”

Those tallies belied House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s vow earlier this year that she would not embrace impeachment unless there was such overwhelming evidence that even Republicans were on board the effort.

“It is tragic that the president’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary,” she told colleagues on Wednesday, adding, “He gave us no choice.”

During the 1998 votes on President Clinton, both Democrats and Republicans crossed party lines on all four articles of impeachment up for a vote. Five Democrats joined with the GOP to approve two of those articles, while 28 Republicans joined Democrats to defeat one article, and a stunning 81 Republicans joined Democrats to shoot down another.

The 1974 proceedings against President Nixon never reached a House floor vote, but in the Judiciary Committee the vote was bipartisan, with six Republicans joining all of the panel’s Democrats to support impeachment.

Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.

This week’s vote was far less dramatic that those previous affairs, partly because of the partisanship and partly because there’s no question what happens next — the Senate is certain to acquit Mr. Trump, possibly on a bipartisan basis.

The White House had been working to prevent any GOP defections, and said the fact that no Republicans broke on Wednesday underscored the weakness of the case against Mr. Trump.

“Republicans lived for a long time with Clinton before they proceeded to impeachment. There was no particular drive among Republicans to drive him from office,” one White House official said. “By contrast, no one has articulated what actual crime may have been committed, let alone what understandable crime. Collusion is not a crime. Neither is obstruction of Congress.”

Whether by design or accident, the floor proceedings Wednesday were dominated by the partisans, and relatively few of the centrists took to the chamber to defend their decisions.

One who did was Rep. Will Hurd, a Texas Republican seen as one of Mr. Trump’s fiercest critics within the House GOP.

Unlike most Republicans, he disputed Mr. Trump’s insistence that his July phone call with Ukraine’s president — the focus of most of the impeachment furor — was, in the president’s words, “perfect.” Instead Mr. Hurd saw “bungling foreign policy decisions.”

“But we have not heard evidence beyond a reasonable doubt of bribery or extortion,” Mr. Hurd said.

Rep. Scott Peters, California Republican, joined the lament on the partisan nature of impeachment, but said Democrats don’t deserve the blame.

“That’s on my Republican colleagues,” he said. “Republicans have not sought the truth. They have sought to avoid the truth.”

Analysts have pondered what a House impeachment and a Senate acquittal will mean politically for Mr. Trump and lawmakers up for reelection in 2020. But it’s already produced the beginnings of a political realignment.

Mr. Van Drew has said he’s switching parties to become a Republican after the impeachment vote.

“Impeachment is going to fracture the country apart even more. Impeachment is going to make people even angrier and angrier at each other,” he said.

Meanwhile Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, who has long supported impeachment, fled the GOP to become an independent in July.

“President Donald J. Trump has abused and violated the public trust,” he said Wednesday. “It is our duty to impeach him.”

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