Donald Trump is the first president to be impeached a second time, and Tennessee’s congressional representatives split along party lines during Wednesday’s House vote. Both Democrats voted to impeach, and all seven of the state’s GOP House members voted against.
Prominent Republicans such as Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming voiced their support for impeachment in the hours leading up to the vote, giving political cover to those who previously felt pressure to stand with the president.
In December 2019, House Democrats impeached Trump, charging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in his dealings with Ukraine. Tennessee’s congressional delegation predictably fell along party lines for that vote. The state’s seven Republicans rejected both articles of impeachment, while Tennessee’s two Democrats cast yes votes.
This time around, the article of impeachment charges the president with “incitement of insurrection” for “spreading false statements” about the election and challenging the Electoral College results, which Congress was counting on Jan. 6 when the pro-Trump mob broke into the Capitol.
In the wake of that riot, after members hid in lockdown for their safety, all of Tennessee’s GOP House members objected to certifying the Electoral College results from Pennsylvania. All except West Tennessee’s David Kustoff objected to certifying Arizona’s vote.
Democrats voted to certify the vote.
Here’s how Tennessee’s House members voted, and why, in Wednesday’s historic second impeachment:
Diana Harshbarger, R-Kingsport
Statement from floor speech: “You can tell the American people that this is a vote to impeach upon the grounds of inciting violence and insurrection, but the American people see a double standard. They see a standard applied to those on the left who commit violence, and they see a standard applied to those on the right who commit violence. The American people see this, and they understand it.
“I have been here all of one week, and what I see instead of lawmakers who are truth-seekers, I see lawmakers who are power-seekers and that’s never good. What a shame.”
Tim Burchett, R-Knoxville
Statement: “I think it was incredibly rushed. Last time it took weeks, if not months (to reach an impeachment hearing) … It wasn’t a legitimate process. There weren’t any hearings and there was no real debate. I think it’s just a bad process and sets a horrible, horrible precedent.”
Chuck Fleischmann, R-Chattanooga
Statement: “I am deeply concerned about our nation’s future. The inexcusable and heinous violence that occurred at the Capitol last week was abhorrent and an affront to our Republic. We are deeply divided, and the vitriol, toxicity and animosity towards our fellow Americans have only continued to exasperate this divide. I believe we desperately need to begin to heal as a nation — impeachment would only throw fuel on the fire.
“I will be voting against impeaching President Donald Trump, he has seven days left in his term, and he has committed to a peaceful transition of power. All this impeachment process does is further hurt and divide our nation when we need to be working to heal these wounds. I hope that my colleagues will soon join me in deescalating the rhetoric and working to mend our political divides. We need to focus on what we were sent here to do, creating and enacting policies that will help our communities.”
Scott DesJarlais, R-South Pittsburg
Statement in advance of the vote: “I oppose any impeachment efforts put forth by the House. President Trump has announced a smooth, orderly and seamless transfer of power. His team is ensuring the Biden-Harris administration has everything they need to assume office.
“This impeachment is quite frankly, frivolous. The House has already impeached President Trump once, to put the American people through another trial is a waste of taxpayers’ money.”
“… Many of my constituents are angered and upset by House leadership’s decision to move forward on this. Should it come to a vote on the House floor I will vote no.”
Jim Cooper, D-Nashville
Statement: “The President played a direct role in the insurrection at our U.S. Capitol building one week ago today. The majority of the House voted to impeach him again today but he should resign immediately. He is a threat to America & cannot be allowed to continue to assault our democracy.”
John Rose, R-Cookeville
Statement: “Instead of pushing through a partisan impeachment that has had zero hearings nor presentation of evidence, we should start the hard work of restoring the American people’s faith in our institutions and address the real issues that are affecting this country, like how to get every citizen the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Mark Green, R-Brentwood
Statement ahead of the vote: “Our country just witnessed an unthinkable act of violence against our Capitol, and I’m grateful law enforcement continues to bring those who committed the crime to justice. Now is the time for this country to come together. Unity can only be achieved by focusing on where we find common ground instead of drawing new battle lines. Sadly, the efforts to impeach a President with only a week remaining in his term will only tear us further apart.
“… Every one of us has a role to play in bridging the divide. I urge all Americans to get off social media, and instead, talk with your neighbors, go to your house of worship, and call that family member you always argue with at Thanksgiving. And I hope President-elect Biden will ask his Congressional colleagues to work toward uniting the country instead of pursuing a rushed impeachment that will only deepen the wedge between us.”
David Kustoff, R-Germantown
Statement: “There is no doubt every American was shocked by the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol Building last Wednesday. As our country is experiencing this time of turmoil and uncertainty, we must work together to reconcile our differences and heal our nation. Impeaching President Trump during his last seven days in office would only further divide us as Americans. That is why I do not support the removal of President Trump through impeachment. Our country is in the middle of a global pandemic and the American people are struggling. We must focus our efforts on unifying our country and supporting a peaceful transition of power on Jan. 20.”
Steve Cohen, D-Memphis
Statement from floor speech: “After President Trump was impeached but not convicted last year, Senator Susan Collins said ‘he’s learned a pretty big lesson. He was impeached.’ Then, last week, he brought his ‘it will be wild’ riotous television show that he produced for one person, Individual One. Intelligence reports indicate that the people he said he ‘loves’ and ‘are special’ are going to attack this city and attack this Capitol next week. He has not asked them not to do it. He has not told them to stand down. I most fear January 20th because I think he will try to go out with a bang and take attention away from Joe Biden.”
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: How Tennessee’s congressional delegation voted on a second impeachment of President Donald Trump