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After refusing to overturn election, five House ag panelists oppose impeachment

Although they defied President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, five Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee voted on Wednesday against impeaching Trump for inciting the deadly mob attack on the Capitol last week. They said that impeachment was divisive and hasty, while the new Agriculture chairman, Georgia Democrat David Scott, said speedy action was needed.

“Let us not this day move too late to save our great nation,” said Scott during the closing minutes of debate on the resolution charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection.”

The House passed the resolution of impeachment on a bipartisan 232-197 vote, with 10 Republicans joining all 222 House Democrats. Trump is the first president to be impeached twice. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the incoming Senate Agriculture chairwoman, said she would vote to remove Trump “when” the Senate takes up the matter. “Our country cannot heal and move forward without accountability and justice,” said the Michigan Democrat on social media.

The Republicans on House Agriculture who voted against challenges to states’ electoral votes were Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania, Austin Scott of Georgia, Don Bacon of Nebraska, Dusty Johnson of South Dakota, and Troy Balderson of Ohio. Scott, Bacon, Johnson, and Balderson voted to accept the electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania. Thompson voted to accept Arizona’s votes and to reject Pennsylvania’s. Congress voted on the challenges after rioters broke into the Capitol and vandalized the building. Five people died.

With Thompson, Scott, Bacon, Johnson, and Balderson joining their colleagues, all 18 re-elected Republicans on the committee voted against impeachment. All 22 re-elected Democrats voted for it.

“The president attempted to overturn the results of a free and fair election and incited violence against his own government,” said Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, an Agriculture Committee member and Biden’s nominee for Housing secretary.

Thompson, the Republican leader on the committee, said the House was moving too quickly. “There has not been an investigation, there have been no hearings, and we are seven days away from a new administration,” he said. Johnson said that “a snap impeachment is the wrong approach.” Neither mentioned Trump’s role at a rally near the White House, where he repeated baseless claims of election irregularities, encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol, and said he would never concede defeat.

“While the president was wrong to not concede … he did commit last week to an orderly transition of power on Jan. 20,” said Bacon. Impeachment would be disruptive, he said. Austin Scott also said impeachment would be divisive and blamed Democrats rather than Trump.

Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat on the committee, said impeachment was “a united response to a disgusting act of brutality and sedition.” On social media, she also said, “Last week, we watched in shock & horror when extremists — inspired by the president’s months of lies and invigorated by his speech earlier in the day — attacked the U.S. Capitol building with aims to perpetrate violence & undermine our democracy.”

The House roll call on impeaching Trump is available here.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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