Iowa’s congressional delegation split along party lines over impeachment

Republicans say impeachment would further divide an already wounded nation, but Democrat Cindy Axne said President Trump holding office any longer is dangerous.

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U.S. President Donald Trump gives pauses to answer a reporters’s question about a whistleblower as he leaves the Oval Office after hosting the ceremonial swearing in of Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia at the White House September 30, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/TNS)

Caleb McCullough, Managing Editor


Iowa’s representatives in Congress are split by party on support for impeaching President Trump, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., threatens to begin the process.

Republicans said in statements that an impeachment process would further divide an already wounded nation. U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, Iowa’s sole Democratic representative, said she would support the measure.

Calls to impeach the president — for a second time — have been growing since Wednesday when a mob of loyalists inspired and invigorated by Trump stormed the Capitol, temporarily shutting down the counting of electoral votes and occupying the building for hours.

In a letter to the House of Representatives on Friday, Pelosi said the House would move to impeach Trump if he did not resign immediately, and she called on her Republican colleagues to support the effort.

Trump was impeached by the House in December 2019 for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden, but he was acquitted in the Senate.

In emails to the Daily Iowan, spokespeople for Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, both Republicans, did not say which way they would vote if an impeachment trial reached the Senate.

“Sen. Grassley believes that the country must take steps to tone down political rhetoric and mend divisions,” Grassley spokesperson Taylor Foy wrote in an email. “Impeachment this late in the administration with an inauguration just days away risks further disunity. Details of what the House may or may not do remain unclear, and Sen. Grassley isn’t going to speculate further.”

Brendan Conley, a spokesperson for Ernst, said Ernst was focused on a smooth transition of power, but he did not say whether she would vote to acquit the president in a potential trial.

“At this point, impeachment is hypothetical,” Conley wrote in an email. “The president has 12 days left in office, and right now, Senator Ernst is focused on ensuring a peaceful transfer of power, keeping our country safe and secure, and truly healing our nation.”

Both senators said in statements yesterday that Trump is partially responsible for the violence that took place at the Capitol, which resulted in five deaths, including a Capitol police officer.

In the House, Axne has come out in support of articles of impeachment against Trump. On Thursday, she called on the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove the president, but as Vice President Mike Pence reportedly rejected the idea, she said she would support impeachment.

“I do not make this decision lightly, but President Trump has the blood of five Americans – including one Capitol Police officer – on his hands,” Axne wrote in a statement. “On Sunday, I swore to uphold the Constitution and protect our nation from enemies foreign and domestic. A President who incites an attack on the seat of our government is a threat that cannot be tolerated for even one more day.”

Republicans in the House said that an impeachment process would add fuel to the deep political divisions in America and said they wanted to focus on uniting the country. Austin Harris, a spokesperson for Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, said she wanted to focus on the issues that she ran on, like lowering prescription drug costs and addressing the pandemic.

“With President Trump’s public concession and commitment to an orderly transition of power, Representative Miller-Meeks believes that impeaching the president with only a few days left in his term would only further divide the American people and make it harder for President-Elect Joe Biden to unite the country,” Harris wrote in an email to the DI.

In an interview with the Quad-City Times on Thursday, Miller-Meeks said there was “plenty of blame to go around” for the riot at the Capitol, and said there was fraud in the 2020 election, though dozens of court cases found no evidence of fraud.

U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, a staunch supporter of Trump during his campaign, wrote in a statement that his priorities would be in addressing issues that affected his constituents, and he opposed an impeachment process which he said would divide the nation.

“We are at a critical point in time in our nation’s history — a time where both parties need to come together for the good of the American people,” Feenstra wrote. “Any effort by the House to impeach President Trump will only deepen divisions, and I will strongly oppose any attempt to remove the president from office before the end of his term.”

Similarly, U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, said that she would oppose impeachment efforts in the House. Her statement spoke positively of Trump, saying she would advocate for the policies he championed, and that he accomplished a lot for Americans.

“If the House tries to impeach President Trump over the next two weeks, I will oppose this effort,” she wrote in the statement. “We don’t need any further division right now. As President Trump said last night, he is fully supporting the peaceful transition of power to President-Elect Joe Biden.”

 

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