The second impeachment of President Donald Trump split Northern Arizona’s congressional representatives along party lines.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the senate won’t hold hearings on whether to convict the President and remove him from office until Jan. 19, the day before the inauguration of President Elect Joe Biden.
Rep. Paul Gosar voted against the impeachment motion, which passed on a 232-197 vote, with just 10 Republicans joining all the House Democrats. Gosar’s District 4 includes most of Western Arizona plus Prescott, Flagstaff, the Verde Valley and Northern Gila County.
“I will be voting NO on the resolution to impeach the president,” said Gosar on Twitter before the Wednesday vote. “The vandals and rioters who interrupted my floor motion and speech prevented me from completing the official business of the House are solely responsible for their actions, not the President.”
Gosar was referring to his floor speech urging Congress to set aside the Arizona Presidential election results due to unproven allegations of election fraud repeatedly rejected by state and federal courts.
Rep. Tom O’Halleran voted for the impeachment.
“For months, President Trump fanned the flames of unrest, calling on his supporters to take action, supporting them as the events of January 6 began and staying silent for hours as they stormed the U.S. Capitol, raising a confederate flag in the building for the first time in American history,” said O’Halleran in a prepared statement after the vote. “What the president has done has already weakened us; he remains a threat to our citizens and our national security as long as he is in office.”
The impeachment motion accused the President of “incitement of insurrection,” for remarks he made to demonstrators before rioters shoved aside police and barricades and broke into the U.S. Capitol building.
Five people died during the Jan. 6 attack, including one capitol police officer and one demonstrator shot by police. Three others died of medical issues — including a woman trampled by the crowd.
The single article of impeachment centered on President Trump’s remarks to the crowd immediately prior to the assault on the capitol. He urged the crowd to march on the capitol, confront weak lawmakers and fight to overturn the election results.
O’Halleran, a Democrat who was narrowly re-elected in a swing district that includes Flagstaff, the White Mountains, Southern Gila County and the Navajo and Apache reservations, said, “In stoking a wave of violence not seen in the United States Capitol since the War of 1812, Donald Trump proved himself unfit for office. As a former law enforcement officer and criminal investigator, I spent my career gathering facts and evidence to pursue truth and justice. Today, I am using the facts at hand to inform my decision to vote to impeach: Donald Trump refused to concede in a free and fair election, making countless attempts to overturn the results that were all struck down in courts of law. He incited insurrection by domestic terrorists who attacked our Capitol, threatening the lives of law enforcement officers, staff, and Members, and desecrating the building that represents our very democracy.
“As a direct result of this violence, five Americans, including a Capitol Police officer, have died, and more than 50 police officers are seriously injured, including 15 officers who were hospitalized,” said O’Halleran.
“Our nation is facing a crisis of discord and a deadly pandemic, and we’re all going to need to work together to address both. We must get to work to deliver the aid struggling families need, but we cannot in good conscience leave a direct threat to their safety in the highest seat of power in the free world if it is within our ability to remove him. The Senate should take up our resolution and act swiftly.”
Gosar remained steadfast in his support for the President, along with 197 House Republicans.
Gosar is also facing efforts to consider his removal from office on charges of inciting an insurgency in connection with the Jan. 6 assault on the capitol, which forced senators and representatives to flee just ahead of the rioters. They sheltered from the demonstrators for two hours, in what became something of a COVID super spreader event, as some infected representatives declined to wear masks.
Some of the organizers of the Stop The Steal demonstrations cited Rep. Gosar as the “spirit animal” of the movement. The congressman repeatedly promoted the march, called for people protesting the election results to “live free or die,” suggested the election results amounted to an illegal “coup” attempt and called President-Elect Biden an “illegal usurper.”
Several of Gosars siblings reportedly contacted Rep. Raul Grijalva offering to help in any efforts launched to expel Gosar from Congress for helping instigate the demonstrations that led to the assault on the capitol. The same group of family member has endorsed Gosar’s opponents in the past two elections. However, Gosar won in November with 70 % of the vote in one of the state’s most conservative districts.
David Gosar told the Arizona Republic, “five people are dead and Congress has been attacked. Somebody has to pay for it.”
Some Democrats want to invoke a post-Civil War law that allows for the removal of members of congress who have incited or supported insurrection. National media accounts and the release of video statements by organizers of the Stop The Steal demonstration have focused on the role of Gosar and a handful of other representatives for their links to the organizers.
Congress has expelled 20 members in its history, but only two in the past 40 years. In 1980, the Houser expelled Rep. Michael Myers (D-PA) for his role in the Abscam bribery scandal. In 2002, the House expelled Rep. Jim Traficant (D-Ohio) after his conviction for racketeering and bribery.
Rep. Gosar has served six terms and has often made controversial statements that gained national media attention, including his suggestion that the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville was actually planned by an Obama sympathizer.
However, Gosar easily brushed aside a primary challenge from a more moderate Republican in last year’s primary battle and in the last two election cycles has crushed strong Democratic opponents in the general election.