After six hours of debate, the House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to impeach President Donald Trump, largely doing so along party lines.
The charges were separated into two articles of impeachment. The first charge, abuse of power, accuses Trump of using his office to cause Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 U.S. election. The second charge, obstruction of Congress, was levied because the president blocked testimony and refused to participate in the investigation or turn over documents.
All Republicans in the Minnesota delegation voted against both articles. And all Democrats in the delegation voted for the articles, save Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota’s Seventh District, who voted against both.
“I think everybody knew how people were going to vote,” Rep. Betty McCollum of St. Paul told MinnPost after the vote. “I think the chamber was very solemn, as it should be. This is a very sad day.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota’s Fifth District said in a statement that the evidence is “incontrovertible.”
“The president extorted a foreign government in an effort to benefit his re-election —and obstructed the congressional investigation into that extortion,” she said. “He abused his oath of office. He must be impeached.”
In a speech on the House Floor, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, was frank: “The republic for which it stands is what we are here to talk about today. A republic, if we can keep it.” As Pelosi moved down one of the aisles, she received nods from members and a high-five from Rep. Dean Phillips, who voted for impeachment. Phillips, who has been making a play to recruit Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI) to serve as an impeachment manager, also spent some of the day huddled with Amash and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D-New York, on the House floor. But come the end of the night, the Third District congressman was somber as well.
“In all likelihood, some of us are gonna lose our jobs over it,” Phillips told Vice News. “I think when you do so following principle, it’s a message to the country.”
Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota’s Second District won her seat in 2018 by defeating an incumbent Republican and represents a district that Republicans said they would target heavily in 2020. “My values would require the same vote if this were a Democratic president,” Craig said in a statement prior to the vote. “It is about protecting our democratic values, about right and wrong, and about upholding my oath to the Constitution and the rule of law.”
Republicans were consistent in their charge that the impeachment process had not been bipartisan, and so was a nonstarter for them. All three Republicans in the delegation voted against both articles.
“The sad truth is that this has been an overtly political process from the very beginning, and an unwarranted attempt to remove our duly elected president from office,” Rep. Jim Hagedorn of Minnesota’s First District said in a statement before the vote.
Rep. Pete Stauber of Minnesota’s Eighth said that Democrats have “been consumed, even addicted, to the impeachment charade.” And Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota’s Sixth, who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee, said that the day was “historic,” but not for positive reasons.
“Today, one political party abused the Constitution to advance their own political agenda,” he said. “They claimed they did not come to Congress to impeach a president, but many of them encouraged impeachment in the days immediately following the president’s inauguration.”
Only three Democrats voted against an article of impeachment: Rep. Jeff Van Drew, D-New Jersey, who is slated to become a Republican imminently; Jared Golden (D-Maine), and Peterson.
For the Western Minnesota congressman, a vote against impeachment marks the second time in two decades he’s voted against impeaching a president. The first was President Bill Clinton in 1998. Peterson, a Democrat who represents a district that voted for Trump by over 30 points, has been consistent in his public statements that impeachment is not warranted.
“This process has been a mistake and I will not be whipped in line by my party. I may stand alone, but I stand in good conscience,” Peterson told WCCO-TV/CBS. “History will show this to be a mistake, and the Senate will make short work of an acquittal.”
Ken Martin, the chair of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party, said that Peterson being the sole member of the state’s Democratic delegation to vote against impeachment makes sense to him.
“Collin Peterson is one of the few politicians in Washington who still puts his district ahead of his party. He’s survived for close to 30 years now in the most Republican district in the country won by a Democrat. One of the reasons he does is because he actually represents his constituents ahead of his party,” said Martin.
“I give him some respect because while I disagree with his decision, he’s been very consistent in making sure he represents the people of the 7th District. I don’t think it will hurt him politically. If anything it will probably help him.”
Peter Callaghan contributed to this report.