Local lawmakers are reacting to the impeachment of President Donald Trump, who on Wednesday night became the third president in U.S. history to be impeached by the House.
Virginia Rep. Jennifer Wexton, a Democrat from Virginia’s 10th district, said in a statement that voting to impeach Trump was not an easy decision.
Wexton said Trump leveraged the highest office in the land for personal political gain and in doing so, jeopardized national security, undermined the integrity of elections and betrayed public trust.
“I cast my vote with a heavy heart and a solemn sense of duty to protect our Constitution,” she said.
Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Democrat from Virginia’s 11th district, released a statement in support of the two articles of impeachment.
“Each of us took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Not to the President. Not to our political party,” Connolly said. “Today, we must put country over party. Conscience over complicity. Today, we must assert that no one is above the law. Today, we are summoned by history to do the right thing.”
Connolly said that President Trump had violated his oath of office by extorting a foreign government to interfere with a U.S. election and refusing to cooperate with the Congressional investigation into his actions.
Democratic Rep. John Sarbanes, who represents parts of Anne Arundel, Howard, Montgomery and Baltimore counties in Maryland, echoed Wexton’s sentiments, saying, “Impeachment is not something you reach for. It is something you are brought to — reluctantly — when the evidence presented can no longer be denied.”
The articles of impeachment, the political equivalent of an indictment, now go to the Senate for trial. If Trump is acquitted as expected by the Republican-led chamber, he would have to run for reelection carrying the enduring mark of impeachment on his purposely disruptive presidency, The Associated Press reported.
Democratic Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen called it a “somber day for our nation and for the Congress.” In a statement, he said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s conduct is “troubling and anything but impartial.”
Van Hollen called on the American people to demand a fair trial.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland, called on Republicans to “defend our democracy.”
In a tweet, Hoyer said that Republicans have exhibited courage throughout history. “I urge my colleagues: Look into your soul,” Hoyer said.
But there were other lawmakers who did not support impeachment and voted against it.
Maryland Republican Rep. Andy Harris called the impeachment a “hoax and a sham,” tweeting a picture of his “No” vote.
Virginia Republican Rep. Ben Cline called the articles of impeachment “politically motivated,” and said that to remove a president from office for partisan gain is nothing short of “a hijacking of our Constitution.”
Rep. Rob Wittman, a Virginia Republican, maintained that the hearings held by House Democrats did not prove that Trump committed an impeachable offense and accused the Democrats of building a case for impeachment since Trump took office.
D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who does not have a vote, tweeted that 20 years ago, she spoke on the House floor for residents who have no vote on impeachment. Recalling the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, she said, “Lying about an affair vs. sacrificing national security for personal, political gain. Not even close.”