This California Republican Broke Ranks When Congress Voted To Impeach Trump A 2nd Time
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California members of Congress mostly voted along party lines on Wednesday when the U.S. House of Representatives -- for the first time in history -- impeached a president for the second time.
But one Republican broke ranks: David Valadao, a former congressman who regained his Central Valley seat in November, joined nine other GOP representatives who voted to impeach President Trump for inciting an insurrection when violent rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol last week.
The House passed the single article of impeachment with a 232-197 vote.
Unlike the first time that Congress impeached President Trump, this one had some bipartisan support: The third-ranking GOP leader in the House, Liz Cheney of Wyoming, led 10 Republicans who crossed the aisle to support impeachment.
While criticizing the rushed process and lack of hearings, Valadao said on Twitter, "President Trump was, without question, a driving force in the catastrophic events that took place on January 6 by encouraging masses of rioters to incite violence on elected officials, staff members, and our representative democracy as a whole."
He was just sworn into office on Tuesday after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month.
Based on the facts before me, I have to go with my gut and vote my conscience. I voted to impeach President Trump. His inciting rhetoric was un-American, abhorrent, and absolutely an impeachable offense. It’s time to put country over politics.— Rep. David Valadao (@RepDavidValadao) January 13, 2021
Valadao held the 21st District seat for three terms before losing to T.J. Cox in 2020. He won back the seat in November by just over 1,500 votes in a district where Democrats hold an advantage in voter registration.
Other GOP members from the state rejected the impeachment process as politically divisive and unjust.
"The wounds caused by this act of terror will not be healed by impeaching President Trump, which will only deepen the divide felt in our country today," said Orange County Congresswoman Michelle Steel, one of the freshmen members who helped California Republicans win back four House seats in the 2020 election.
"We owe it to the American people to unite over shared priorities in the days to come," said Steel, who voted by proxy after a positive COVID-19 test last week.
Tom McClintock, a former gubernatorial candidate who represents the Yosemite Valley and Tahoe in Congress, said impeaching a president with no hearings, seven days before he is due to leave office, "trivializes this power to the point of caricature."
California Democrats hammered the President and his Republican allies for stoking false conspiracy theories about election fraud.
"He is capable of starting a civil war," said Los Angeles Rep. Maxine Waters, speaking from the House floor. "He must be impeached. He must be stopped now."
Many argued that Trump's refusal to admit he lost the election whipped his most extreme supporters into a dangerous fervor, encouraging their violent bid to stop Congress from certifying the electoral college vote count last week.
"This president has blood on his hands in the wake of this attempted coup," said Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, who represents parts of East and South Los Angeles, including Commerce and Downey. "This president has sadly violated his oath to support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic."
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who represents Bakersfield, condemned the unfounded claims by some in his own caucus that the leftist movement antifa was behind the Capitol siege.
"There's absolutely no evidence of that," he said. "And conservatives should be the first to say so."
McCarthy also laid blame on the President, saying Trump "bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters," but stopped short of supporting impeachment, calling instead for a "fact finding commission and a censure resolution."
A handful of Republicans, including Orange County freshman Young Kim, have already introduced a resolution of censure against Trump "for trying to unlawfully overturn the 2020 Presidential election."
The timing of the next step is unclear, but it's all but certain Trump will not face possible removal from office before Inauguration Day. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled in a statement that a Senate trial would not be held until after President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has named the Democrats who will serve as managers for the impeachment trial in the Senate. They include Ted Lieu of the South Bay and Eric Swalwell of Northern California.