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Iowa's U.S. House Delegation Vote On Second Trump Impeachment Follows Party Lines

Evan Vucci
With the U.S. Capitol in the background, workers install fencing around the Capitol grounds the day after violent protesters loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Congress in Washington.

Iowa’s representatives in the U.S. House have split along party lines on the vote to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time. The chamber voted 232 to 197 Wednesday in an exceptional bipartisan rebuke of Trump, the only president in American history to be impeached twice, on the grounds of “inciting violence against the government of the United States."

Grinnell College political scientist Peter Hanson called the events that precipitated the vote “unprecedented” and “deeply troubling."

“It's unusual to impeach a president. It’s never happened to impeach a president twice. And we have never had a president who is being impeached on the grounds that he incited an insurrection against U.S. Congress,” Hanson said. “This is a frightening moment in our history.”

Iowa’s three Republican representatives in the U.S. House voted not to impeach Trump, arguing that the process would further divide an already deeply divided nation.

“As horrific as the events of January 6 were, President Trump has conceded and committed to an orderly transition of power on January 20,” Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks said in a written statement. “Impeaching him with 7 days remaining in his term would only further divide the nation and make it more difficult for President-Elect Joe Biden to unify and lead our nation.”

In the wake of the attack, Miller-Meeks has continued to echo Trump’s unfounded claims of widespread election fraud, as have other Republican officials in the state.

The vote came just one week after the attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of pro-Trump extremists, spurred on by his baseless allegations of fraud and bent on disrupting the congressional certification of the victory of President-elect Joe Biden. A coalition of federal government and elections industry officials have called the election the “most secure” in the nation’s history.

During the siege on the Capitol, some rioters apparently carried plastic handcuffs and chanted “hang Mike Pence”, sending lawmakers, staff and journalists into hiding for hours. Some members of Congress say they believed they were running for their lives. Others say they resorted to arming themselves with pieces of broken furniture to use as makeshift weapons. The attack delayed the certification vote for hours and resulted in the deaths of five people.

“It is hard to think of a more blatant violation of the president's oath of office than inciting an insurrection and leading a mob to attack the Capitol. If there are any grounds for impeachment in the American constitutional system, those would be grounds.”
- Peter Hanson, political scientist, Grinnell College

The state’s lone Democrat, Congresswoman Cindy Axne, voted to impeach Trump, saying the president has ‘blood on his hands’ and that it is unsafe to allow him to retain the powers of the presidency, even for these last seven days of his term.

“This violent attack on our democracy was no accident. For months, the President had used the power and pulpit of his office to spread lies about the legitimacy and security of our elections. And then, in a desperate attempt to overturn his own loss, he pressed his supporters to impede the certification of his own election,” Axne’s statement reads in part. “Regardless of the remaining time in the President’s term, his crime is too great for us to ignore. For the safety of our nation and its citizens, President Trump must be removed from office.”

Republican Rep. Ashley Hinson meanwhile argued that impeachment is the “wrong path” and the process was rushed.

“I believe the President bears responsibility and that is why I urged him personally to call off those who were violently storming the Capitol last week. I wish he had spoken up sooner, but he did not. Words matter; there must be accountability for those who feed into dangerous rhetoric on either side of the ideological spectrum,” Hinson’s statement reads in part. “Just a week out from a new Administration, impeachment will only serve to feed the flames and further divide our nation.”

Republican Rep. Randy Feenstra echoed those sentiments.

“President Trump, who has committed to a peaceful transition of power, only has seven days left in his term. It is time for our country to come together and move forward -- not to pursue divisive and rushed political exercises,” Feenstra’s statement reads in part.

Grinnell’s Hanson says the split among the delegation’s votes reflects the intensely partisan nature of the country’s political culture.

“It is hard to think of a more blatant violation of the president's oath of office than inciting an insurrection and leading a mob to attack the Capitol,” Hanson said. “If there are any grounds for impeachment in the American constitutional system, those would be grounds.”

Hanson says the baseless allegations of fraud and ongoing threats to public trust in elections, leveled by Trump and echoed by elected officials across the country, are a “body blow” to the nation’s system of government and could lead to further political violence. The democracy is at a “turning point," he added.

“To the extent that that sentiment has gained root among Republican voters, it's going to do real damage to our system of government,” Hanson said. “The question is whether we are going to see both political parties stand by a free and fair elections and defend the democratic process.”