Some Republicans who broke from the GOP to back the Democrat’s historic, second impeachment resolution for President Trump are facing heat from their local Republican parties for how they voted.
More than a year ago, all House Republicans voted against the president’s first impeachment. On Wednesday, 10 GOP members joined with all Democrats to impeach Trump, some of whom were the sole representative from their state’s delegation to vote that way.
Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio), Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.), John Katko (N.Y.), Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), Peter Meijer (Mich.), Dan Newhouse (Wash.), Tom Rice (S.C.), Fred Upton (Mich.), and David Valadao (Calif.) voted to impeach.
The choice to split from the party’s majority comes with a risk that those members could face political blowback for their votes and lose support altogether from their state’s Republican Party come the next election.
Cheney, the No. 3 in the House Republican leadership as the GOP Conference Chair, is getting flak from the Wyoming Republican Party and her congressional colleagues.
Members of the House Freedom Caucus circulated a petition Wednesday to force a vote on a resolution calling on Cheney to resign from her post. The resolution states Cheney’s position “has brought the Conference into disrepute and produced discord.”
The Wyoming GOP issued a lengthy statement early Thursday lambasting Cheney. The party alleges its received harsh comments from its members saying, “Our telephone has not stopped ringing, our email is filling up, and our website has seen more traffic than at any previous time.”
Those comments accused Cheney of aligning herself with “the beltway elites” and “with leftists.”
The organization said, “We as a Party respect our elected officials and assume that they will respect and represent their constituents. We are receiving the message loud and clear that what happened yesterday is a true travesty for Wyoming and the country.”
Cheney said her vote to impeach was one of conscience.
She said, “The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
New York, South Carolina weigh in
Katko and Rice were also slammed by their state’s conservative groups. So far, however, those organizations have yet to comment on whether they will continue to support the lawmakers through the end of their terms.
The Conservative Party of New York State said the organization was “very disappointed” in Katko’s vote in favor of impeachment.
The organization said, “We consider his action ill-informed. It will do nothing to end the national divide and will likely further aggravate it.”
The Conservative Party is very disappointed with Con. John Katko’s intent to vote in favor of impeachment. We consider his action ill-informed. It will do nothing to end the national divide and will likely further aggravate it.
— Conservative Party Of NYS (@cpnys) January 13, 2021
Katko, who was the first Republican to say he would vote to impeach, said as a former federal prosecutor that he “must follow the law and the facts.”
He said, “To allow the President of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy. For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action.”
South Carolina GOP Chairman Drew McKissick called impeachment a “political stunt” and slammed Rice for voting in favor of it.
“Democrats have been looking for any excuse to get rid of President Trump ever since he set foot in the Oval Office,” McKissick said in a statement Wednesday. “We completely disagree with this sham and to say I’m severely disappointed in Congressman Tom Rice would be an understatement.”
Rice strongly criticized Trump’s response to the riots at the Capitol and said his failure to call off the rioters, visit the injured, or families of the dead in the week following the siege pushed him to vote to impeach.
He said, “I have backed this President through thick and thin for four years. I campaigned for him and voted for him twice. But, this utter failure is inexcusable.”
Members say critics of their vote on Wednesday are also coming from friends and family.
Kinzinger told the Chicago Sun Times that he may lose close relationships over his vote to impeach Trump.
He said, “I’ve heard from friends that don’t want to be friends with me anymore. I’ve had family members who are somewhat distant relatives sign a petition disowning me,” citing “Bible verses and that I was part of the devil’s army. That actually reemboldened me because I believe that we are fighting, you know, against a lot of misinformation, where even people that are Christians have been misled.”