WASHINGTON — After about 10 hours of debate over rules and rhetoric, the U.S. House of Representatives voted along partisan lines Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump.
Trump became the third president of the United States to be impeached, but he is the first to be impeached during his first term of office.
Every Republican representing Oklahoma in the House voted against both articles of impeachment. The only Democrat, Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK5), voted for impeachment.
Many House members took to the microphone to argue the impeachment process, including freshman Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK1) who said his constituents in the Tulsa area had been bombarding his office with calls.
“My constituents are calling everyday mad as hell saying we should be ashamed this historic chamber has fallen so low to allow something like this to happen,” Hern said during the floor debate. “You may dislike this president, but let the American people speak in the 2020 election, and we’ll determine.”
Hern said the 22-day investigation wasn’t actually 22 days of consideration. Six days of the 22 were weekends, another two were fly days, and the House was in recess seven days around Thanksgiving.
“Seven days to impeach a president on pure hatred,” Hern said in an interview with Gaylord News.
Tom Cole (R-OK4), ranking member of the House Committee on Rules, reminded colleagues that Speaker Nancy Pelosi said earlier this year that Congress should not impeach unless evidence was found of something compelling, overwhelming and bipartisanly opposed.
“If we’re really being honest, Democrats have been searching for a reason to impeach President Trump since the day he was elected,” said Cole. “This was not a result of a bipartisan process or an open or fair process. Impeachment of a president is one of the most consequential acts the House of Representatives can undertake. It should only be done after the fullest and most careful consideration.”
Horn, in an interview before Wednesday’s debate, asked the questions herself.
“Was there an abuse of power? And was there an obstruction of Congress? The answer is yes,” she said.
Horn also spoke out against the “extreme partisanship,” on each side of the aisle.
“This is not a vote about party,” Horn said. “This is a vote about what’s right. If I were going to take the easy way I could make other choices.”
Emerging from the House chambers, Rep.Frank Lucas (R-OK3) looked ashen-faced after Wednesday’s impeachment vote.
“Take everything that 1998 was, to work up the political partisanship a couple of times, add a good measure of the theatrics on all sides, and you have today,” said Lucas.
Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK2) had joined Hern and other GOP representatives in an attempt to enter a closed hearing toward the beginning of the impeachment inquiry. Both have been outspoken opponents of impeachment from its inception.
“It’s probably one of the most frustrating days I’ve had politically since I’ve been up here,” Mullin said Wednesday, warning about the potential precedent the impeachment could set for future generations.
“When you’re doing this for political reasons, and you’re using a broad term, like abuse of power, they have to realize that this can be used against them someday,” said Mullin.
With President Donald Trump impeached by the House, the two articles of impeachment now move to the Senate where Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will preside and U.S. Senate members will sit as a jury.
“I know that our president, President Trump, can be pretty obnoxious sometimes,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), who went on to say that is not a reason to impeach a president. “He has a style that’s different than any president ever, but here’s a guy that gets things done.”
It will be the second time that Inhofe has sat in judgment of a president.
More than 20 years ago, Inhofe voted guilty on two impeachment articles against President Bill Clinton. Neither article came close to garnering the 67 votes needed for conviction.