WASHINGTON — Northwestern Wisconsin’s two congressmen split along partisan lines in Wednesday’s historic House vote to impeach President Donald Trump a second time.
Democratic Rep. Ron Kind of La Crosse said Wednesday that he planned to vote for the article of impeachment against Trump for “incitement of insurrection” over last week’s deadly mob siege at the U.S. Capitol. The vote came a week after Trump encouraged supporters at a rally to “fight like hell” against November’s election results shortly before the raid in which five people died and significant damage was done to the Capitol.
“If what happened last Wednesday is not an impeachable offense, there is not an impeachable offense,” Kind said in a Zoom press conference moments before the 232-197 vote to make Trump the first president to be impeached twice.
“Last Wednesday was a dark day in our nation’s history,” Kind said in a statement. “After months of peddling the Big Lie that a free and fair election he lost was stolen from him, President Trump incited a violent insurrection in an attempt to overturn the will of the voters. Five people died as a result of this attack — including a United States Capitol Police officer. It’s critical that everyone involved in this unprecedented assault on our democracy is held accountable, including President Trump.”
However, Republican Rep. Tom Tiffany of Minocqua joined all five GOP members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation in opposing impeachment.
In a statement, Tiffany said “Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi’s decision to move forward with another partisan effort to remove the president from office with just days remaining in his term is unnecessary.”
Though Tiffany has condemned the violence, he argued the “rushed and irresponsible reimpeachment push” would inflame an already volatile situation.
“It is now time for all of us — Democrats and Republicans alike — to turn down the temperature, condemn criminal violence and intimidation on all sides, stop the political score-settling, and move on with the business of the American people,” said Tiffany, who joined GOP Rep. Scott Fitzgerald as the only Wisconsin members of Congress who voted last week to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential victory in the key swing states of Arizona and Pennsylvania.
But Kind maintained Trump must be held accountable for his actions in inciting the violence and that his early removal from office is necessary to protect the country.
“I believe the president still presents a clear and present danger to the safety of our country, not just based on the conduct of last week that led to the mob and insurrection on our nation’s Capitol, but even his comments (Tuesday) where he claimed that all his remarks were perfectly appropriate,” Kind said.
Kind noted that Trump still hasn’t apologized for his role in the storming of the Capitol and that he continues to be commander in chief of the world’s most powerful military and have influence over millions of Americans. Kind called Trump “still a very dangerous person.”
Trump has taken no responsibility for the riot, suggesting it was the drive to oust him rather than his actions around the storming of the Capitol that was dividing the country.
Acknowledging that he initially had reservations about a rushed impeachment, Kind said that’s why he first called for Trump to resign and voted Tuesday to encourage Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.
When neither of those things happened, Kind said he backed impeachment to hold the president responsible for his actions.
In his morning run Wednesday around the National Mall in Washington, Kind said he was saddened to see so many military troops stationed in the area along with a multitude of barricades and walls that have gone up in the past week.
“It seems like our capital is under siege,” Kind said. “(Trump) is getting his goal of building a big, beautiful wall. Unfortunately, that wall is surrounding the United States Capitol.”
Wisconsin’s other two Democratic House members, Reps. Mark Pocan and Gwen Moore, also voted for impeachment.
No congressional Republicans backed impeaching Trump during his 2019 impeachment vote, and only 10 sided with Democrats in Wednesday’s vote.
Tiffany said during House debate that he hoped President-elect Biden would call off the impeachment effort, which Tiffany said would “rub salt in the wounds for millions of Americans.”
While Kind said he looks forward to a new era of integrity and healing once Biden is inaugurated next Wednesday, Kind insisted it would be hard to begin reconciliation without accountability for the Capitol raid.