GOP Rep. Upton: 'I will vote to impeach'

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Republican Rep. Fred Upton of west Michigan will vote to impeach President Donald Trump, he said Tuesday. 

Upton, a centrist from St. Joseph, is among the first congressional Republicans to take that stance, following House GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming, New York Rep. John Katko and Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger.

Upton, who is Michigan's most senior Republican in Congress, said lawmakers must hold Trump accountable and send a message that the nation will not tolerate "any effort by any president to impede the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next."

“Today the president characterized his inflammatory rhetoric at last Wednesday’s rally as 'totally appropriate,' and he expressed no regrets for last week’s violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol," Upton said in a statement. 

"This sends exactly the wrong signal to those of us who support the very core of our democratic principles and took a solemn oath to the Constitution," Upton continued. 

"I would have preferred a bipartisan, formal censure rather than a drawn-out impeachment process. I fear this will now interfere with important legislative business and a new Biden administration. But it is time to say: Enough is enough."

Rep. Fred Upton

Upton's declaration comes on the eve of a planned vote Wednesday in the Democrat-controlled House to impeach Trump for a second time. Upton voted no on both impeachment articles in 2019.

Freshman GOP Rep. Peter Meijer, who represents the Grand Rapids area, is "strongly considering" backing impeachment, telling CNN that Trump's response to last week's Capitol siege was an "abject failure of leadership."

"I prefer that we have a more fulsome investigation into what happened. Most of what I know about January 6 came either from personal experience or from Twitter," said Meijer, who was with other lawmakers in the House gallery last week as the intruders fought to break in.

"But at the end of the day, I think it is obvious that the president is no longer qualified to hold that office." 

Meijer, who succeeded Libertarian former Rep. Justin Amash, added that he would wait to examine any evidence presented but reaffirmed he is "strongly considering" voting yes.

Michigan's seven House Democrats have co-sponsored the article of impeachment charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection” for his part in the pro-Trump mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol last week. But other Michigan Republicans dismissed the effort as too divisive. 

Rioters breached the Capitol building on Jan. 6, ransacking offices and forcing lawmakers and staffers into hiding for hours until law enforcement regained control. 

A Capitol police officer died after engaging with rioters and law enforcement fatally shot a woman as intruders attempted to break into the House chamber. Three others died from medical emergencies during the chaos. 

House lawmakers voted largely along party lines, 223-205, Tuesday night to pass a separate resolution urging Vice President Mike Pence and Trump's Cabinet to remove him from office using the 25th Amendment. But Pence said in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shortly before the vote that he wouldn’t do so.

“I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our nation,” Pence wrote in the letter.

A handful of Republicans are expected to vote with Democrats to impeach Trump on Wednesday, but several in Michigan's delegation have signaled their opposition, including Reps. Tim Walberg, Bill Huizenga and Lisa McClain. 

Huizenga of Holland has said with so few days to go before Biden's inauguration, "it’s hard for me to see how impeachment will do anything but further divide our nation."

"There are election reforms that need to be enacted. We must finish our fight against COVID-19 by protecting Americans and reversing its effects on our economy," Huizenga said on Facebook.

"Impeachment proceedings will derail these objectives, deepen divides and make unifying our nation even more difficult if not impossible."

Walberg of Tipton told WJR-AM (760) on Monday that the impeachment effort is "just done out of bitterness by a speaker who wants to extract one last pound of flesh.”

Earlier Tuesday, Upton and Meijer backed a measure to censure Trump for his part in inciting the violent mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Upton and Meijer had joined five GOP colleagues in the House to introduce a resolution to censure and condemn the president "for trying to unlawfully overturn the 2020 presidential election and violating his oath of office on January 6." 

Seven Republicans joined a censure resolution to condemn the president "for trying to unlawfully overturn the 2020 presidential election and violating his oath of office on January 6."

The resolution affirms Democrat Joe Biden as the president "duly elected" on Nov. 3. 

Rep. Peter Meijer

The Republicans' censure resolution specifically calls Trump out for his speech at the Ellipse on Jan. 6, where he repeated false claims about winning the election "by a landslide." 

The text also quotes other statements by Trump that "in context, encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — lawless action at the Capitol, such as: ‘'if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore’.'"

The censure resolution also raises Trump's call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which he urged him to ‘‘find’’ enough votes to overturn the Georgia presidential election results, and threatened Raffensperger if he failed to do so. 

The resolution says Trump "gravely endangered" national security, threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power and "imperiled" a co-equal branch of government and "thereby betrayed his trust as president." 

Trump on Tuesday expressed no regrets for his role in fomenting the mob that attacked the Capitol as lawmakers were counting Electoral College votes confirming Biden’s victory.

"People thought that what I said was totally appropriate," Trump said.