The U.S. House impeached President Donald Trump on Wednesday for instigating last week’s rampage at the U.S. Capitol to try to overturn his election defeat, but Louisiana’s four Republican members voted against the motion.
U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, was the lone member of the Louisiana delegation to vote for the single article of impeachment and ask the Senate to expel him from office. The motion passed 232 to 197.
In a one-minute speech, Richmond said Trump incited “the insurrection” and said, “Some of my colleagues … in their latest attempt to placate and please this unfit president suggest that we shouldn’t punish Trump for his actions in order to unify this country. That is a climax of foolishness. Let me suggest to them: Stand up, man up and woman stand up and defend this Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic, including Donald J. Trump.”
Trump is the only president to have been impeached twice.
The four Republican members from Louisiana joined most of their GOP colleagues in opposing impeachment. Ten Republicans broke ranks with Trump to vote for the motion.
U.S. Reps. Steve Scalise, Mike Johnson, Clay Higgins and Garret Graves have all condemned the rioters, with Scalise and Johnson saying that a vote for impeachment would tear the country apart when unity is needed.
Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican, who represents suburban New Orleans, was the only one of the four to address the House.
He lamented the “unacceptable violence” committed by “anarchists” but said, “We need to be focused on toning down the rhetoric … I’ve seen the dark evil of political violence first hand, and it has to stop.”
A deranged gunman shot Scalise in 2017, nearly costing him his life.
“I oppose this rushed impeachment going forward without a single hearing,” Scalise added. “The Senate will not take this up until President Trump has left office. So let’s keep in mind it will only serve to further divide a nation that is calling out for healing.”
But Democrats questioned why Republicans are calling for healing now after more than half of them – including all four Republicans from Louisiana – sought to throw out millions of ballots cast legally in refusing to certify electors for President-elect Joe Biden a week ago.
Democrats also said Trump inflamed his followers to storm the Capitol by falsely claiming repeatedly in recent weeks that he had won the election and that Biden could become president only through fraud. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died during the mob assault by Trump followers.
Johnson, of Benton, used similar language to Scalise in voting against impeachment.
“The shameful violence that occurred on the Capitol grounds January 6th demands a strong, unified Congressional response,” Johnson said in a statement. “This rushed, snap impeachment effort is the opposite of that. It involved no regular order or thoughtful deliberation, and is not helping to heal and unify our country — but further divide it.”
Higgins, in a statement, called the vote “a Democrat political stunt.”
Graves hasn’t said publicly why he voted against impeachment, and his staff has failed to return repeated calls seeking an explanation.
The impeachment vote reflects a push by Democrats to remove Trump from office before he steps aside for President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20.
But that won’t happen because impeachment is only the first step in that process. The Senate still must hold a trial and vote to convict, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Senate won’t hold that trial before Jan. 19.
With Democrats taking control of the Senate on Jan. 20, that trial still seems likely to go forward.
On Wednesday, Democrats and a handful of Republicans echoed Richmond’s words in saying that Trump presented a clear danger and needed to be forced out now.
One Democrat called him “a white supremacist,” another called him “the most dangerous man ever to occupy the Oval Office” and yet another said Trump “is unfit to hold office.”
One Republican called the impeachment effort “divisive” while another said it “flies in the face of all efforts to heal our nation.”
Some Republicans condemned Trump’s comments last Wednesday but said the House was making a rush to judgement and opposed impeachment.
Several Republicans who voted to subvert the votes of the presidential electors said they now accept that Biden will be the next president.
Richmond’s speech marked his final remarks to the House. He is resigning on Friday after 10 years to become a senior adviser to Biden.
“We told you last time if we didn’t impeach him, this would happen again,” Richmond said. “Simply put, we told you so.
“Richmond out,” the congressman said in completing his remarks.