For the third time in U.S. history, the House of Representatives impeached a president. Following nearly ten hours of debate, House members voted 230 to 197 (roll call) to impeach President Donald Trump for abusing his power, and by 229 votes to 198 (roll call) to approve the second article, on Trump’s obstruction of Congress. (Read the full text of the articles here.)
As they had indicated in statements the previous day, Democratic Representatives Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), Dave Loebsack (IA-02), and Cindy Axne (IA-03) voted for both articles of impeachment. None gave a speech during the floor debate. Only two House Democrats voted against the first article, and three voted against the second, while Representative Tulsi Gabbard voted “present” in what she called a “stand for the center.”
No Republicans voted for either article, and Representative Steve King (IA-04) was among many GOP members who thundered against the drive to impeach Trump during the floor debate. I’ve enclosed below the video and transcript of his remarks, along with new statements from Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, and comments from some Iowa Congressional candidates. You can read comments released before the House votes here.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced after the impeachment that she won’t immediately refer the articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate. House leaders hope to influence the Senate to agree to procedures that would allow for a “fair trial.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said he is working closely with White House counsel and hopes to dispose of the impeachment articles quickly.
Representative Steve King’s speech on the House floor on December 18:
Transcript released by King’s office:
“I thank you Madame Speaker and I thank the Gentleman for yielding. I start off first that this is the largest and most massive cover-up of such a list of crimes against our country, and it goes so far as to bring impeachment hearings to try to cover all of this up. And I would take you back to October of 2015 when Barack Obama said, ‘Hillary Clinton would never intend to jeopardize our national security.’ Again, the following April, the next month, Peter Strzok wrote the statement that was delivered by James Comey. And they’ve spent Democrat money and Hillary Clinton money in Russia to pick up dirt on Donald Trump! And, then, Joe Biden goes to Ukraine and makes a statement ‘Here’s a billion dollars, but you must do what I tell you to do!’ You’re accusing Donald Trump of doing that which Joe Biden has confessed to doing!
And, by the way, Joe Biden was not the opponent of Donald Trump. He’s in a 21-way primary for Democrats; he’s running third in that race. His [Biden’s] opponents are the other 20 Democrats. How would anybody dig in to that mess of 21 people and decide he’s going to go overseas and pull some maneuver like this? You have to assign him a motive. You assign him a motive, then you create the dots, then you go dot to dot. But the reality is that it was Biden that was doing the extortion of the power play in order to protect his own son, and it was Donald Trump that was following the law that said you have to ensure that there is not corruption here before this money is handed over.
And, by the way, there was a violent war going on in Ukraine and that’s when we sent blankets and MRE’s over there under Barack Obama. But when I hear this from the Gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Johnson, ‘he doesn’t think he can win the election fair and square, so he would cheat.’ And, I’ve heard that here on this floor. No, it’s the other way around. Your number one proponent of impeachment is Al Green of Texas, and he said those very same things and they brought this case November 9th, the day after Trump was elected.
I yield back.”
Note that King got several facts wrong. Joe Biden has consistently led national polling of the Democratic presidential race. As CNN’s Daniel Dale pointed out, “King also misstated the timeline of Biden’s pressure on Ukraine to fire the prosecutor, suggesting Biden went to Ukraine at some point in mid- or late 2016. The relevant visit was in December 2015. And King wrongly suggested [President Barack] Obama authorized only ‘blankets and MREs’ for Ukraine.”
Senator Joni Ernst tweeted,
This entire process has been a political exercise. The Dems have been heck bent on impeaching @realDonaldTrump since day 1. I have yet to see anything that is an impeachable offense. The vast majority of Iowans I talk to just want us to get past this and start getting things done
— Joni Ernst (@joniernst) December 19, 2019
That’s quite different from her comments to Iowa reporters in October:
Once those articles of impeachment come over, we will serve as jurists. So I will be sitting in the Senate as a member of the jury and I will at that time have the facts presented to me. Not something that Shifty Schiff [House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff] is out there saying to everybody, and you know, making up his own words and his own transcript. It will be the actual facts that they have to present to the Senate. Not this horrible show that they have in the House.
So for right now, I am a potential jurist. And when the facts come forward, I will evaluate the facts, not a bunch of political talk coming out of the House of Representatives.
Incidentally, as a U.S. Senate candidate in early 2014, Ernst suggested President Barack Obama should be impeached for making recess appointments and issuing certain executive orders.
Senator Chuck Grassley released this statement following the House votes on December 18.
“This is a sad day for our country. The impeachment of a president is a serious matter.“Today marks the first partisan impeachment of the President of the United States in modern history. The only bipartisanship the American people witnessed today stood opposed to impeachment. The Framers of the Constitution did not want impeachment to be a partisan process.“The House of Representatives will soon present articles of impeachment to the Senate. I will examine the evidence of the charges presented before the Senate and uphold my oath and duty as a juror.”As president pro tempore of the Senate, Grassley will swear in Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the Senate trial.
Remember, Grassley voted to remove President Bill Clinton from office for offenses that were by any reasonable standard less serious than Trump’s. Clinton never used his foreign policy power in search of partisan political gain, and never held up Congressionally-approved military aid for a personal benefit.
Iowa Democratic Party news release, December 18:
Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price released the following statement following the U.S. House vote to impeach President Trump:
“Today one party fulfilled its duty to uphold our constitution and the values of our democracy. The evidence that Trump committed multiple impeachable offenses is overwhelming and his actions have given Congress no choice but to hold the president accountable. No one is above the law, and this vote was necessary to preserve our democracy for future generations and protect our national security.
“Representatives Axne, Finkenauer and Loebsack are fighting day in and day out to expand access to health care, raise wages, and uphold the rule of law. Just this week, all three of our Democratic Representatives ushered through legislation that will bring relief and resources to farmers struggling from the ongoing effects of Trump’s trade and renewable fuels policies. I’m proud of our House Democrats for standing up for our country today and every day.”
State Senator Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Republican candidate in IA-02:
MILLER-MEEKS STATEMENT ON IMPEACHMENT VOTE: RADICAL DEMOCRATS CEMENT THEMSELVES IN THE HISTORY BOOKS
OTTUMWA – Today, liberal Democrats in the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump, coming as a surprise to no one as the Left has tried to throw the president out of office since the moment he was sworn in, said Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican candidate for Congress.
“With today’s vote, House Democrats have cemented themselves in the history books as choosing to divide this country rather than bring Americans together,” said Miller-Meeks. “And after months of hiding from the press, Democrat Rita Hart has now stated she supports the sham process of impeachment. At least now voters in the 2nd District know where she stands. But the fact is, voters are tired of the impeachment drama and want to move on. After today, impeachment will move to the Senate, where after a fair and transparent process, hopefully senators will move swiftly to acquit the president and allow Congress to get back to work.”
Statement from IA-04 Republican challenger Randy Feenstra:
Hull, IA — Effective conservative State Senator Randy Feenstra issued the following statement on the Congressional impeachment vote:
“Today, House Democrats concluded their sham impeachment proceedings against President Trump. Thankfully real leaders like Senator Grassley and Senator Ernst will stand in the gap when this circus gets to the U.S. Senate.
Sadly, due to Congressman King’s bizarre behavior and subsequent removal from the House Judiciary Committee, Iowa Republicans lost our voice in the process leading up to today. The 4th District deserves an effective conservative leader who will focus on getting conservative results for Iowa.”
Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Eddie Mauro:
This is a somber moment for our country – one that will be remembered for generations. For the third time in history, a president has been impeached by the House of Representatives. All of our representatives should be applauded for the courage they demonstrated today, making sure that no one, not even the President of the United States, is above the law.
But our work is far from over. Our system is still fundamentally broken. Corruption, power, and money have stolen our democracy from the people, and given it to the few. Donald Trump was elected in part because he spoke to this corruption, promising he would “drain the swamp.” Joni Ernst, who recently announced her intention to vote against impeachment before the trial began, was elected in part because of her promise to “make them squeal.” Their failure to place the American people first, to put country before party, will be their downfall.
As Democrats, this is an opportunity to renew our focus on improving the lives of the working class, rather than capitulate to the donor class. It is time we show every American that Democrats fight for the many, not the few. We deserve better.
UPDATE: Jeremy Taylor, another Republican challenger to King in IA-04, released this statement on December 18.
“Nancy Pelosi’s reckless, partisan impeachment is a travesty and an outrage. The last thing she needs is yet another rubber-stamp Democrat by her side like J.D. Scholten. As we have seen today, the stakes have never been higher. We must defeat J.D. Scholten next fall.”
SECOND UPDATE: Governor Kim Reynolds told the Des Moines Register in a December 19 interview,
“I don’t think he should have been impeached. I thought it was ridiculous. I thought it was a political process,” Reynolds, a Republican, told the Des Moines Register in an interview Thursday. “Maybe some things weren’t done adequately on the call, but I do not think that anything rose to the level of impeachment and I think it was a sad day for history in America. I really do.”
Reynolds wrongly implied Trump was impeached solely because of the July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president. The articles of impeachment lay out a much more comprehensive record of how he abused his power seeking partisan political benefit and obstructed Congress.
J.D. Scholten, the Democratic candidate in IA-04, didn’t release a statement about impeachment to the news media, but referenced the House debate in a December 19 fundraising email to supporters. Excerpts:
As the House voted on articles of impeachment yesterday, we hoped that everyone would treat this process with the seriousness it deserves.
But of course, Steve King came to the House floor not to make a case about the facts at hand, but instead to repeat a debunked conspiracy theory that it was Joe Biden, not President Trump, who tried to extort Ukraine. […]
King also said that Joe Biden isn’t really running against Trump. Apparently this flimsy logic is enough for Steve King to justify asking a foreign country to interfere in our election.
Republicans think Steve King is too racist and extreme to serve on House Committees but are more than happy to have him repeat far-right conspiracy theories to try to derail this inquiry. That’s because they don’t want to do the harder job of listening to the facts and deciding what’s best for the American people.
J.D. would treat impeachment seriously and weigh the facts of the case, not repeat conspiracy theories on the House floor. He would put country before party and not play partisan games with the rule of law and our election security. That’s why we need him in Congress, and that’s why we need everyone to pitch in what they can to help elect him.