Of the 11 Republican members of Congress from California, newly sworn in Fresno-area Rep. David Valadao was the only one to vote to impeach President Donald Trump Wednesday.
Valadao was one of 10 Republican House members to join Democrats in charging the president with “incitement of insurrection” over last week’s deadly Capitol riot that sent lawmakers scrambling for safety.
In a series of tweets, Valadao criticized the impeachment process as “a rushed political stunt.” But he also called Trump a “driving force” in the riots and said he ultimately had to “go with my gut and vote my conscience.”
“His inciting rhetoric was un-American, abhorrent, and absolutely an impeachable offense,” he wrote of the president. “It’s time to put country over politics.”
Valadao, who recently reclaimed his seat lost in 2018 to Democrat T.J. Cox, was just sworn in Tuesday after the ceremony was delayed when he tested positive for coronavirus.
Other Republicans supporting impeachment include Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking House Republican and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney; Reps. John Katko of New York; Adam Kinzinger of Illinois; Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio; Fred Upton and Peter Meijer of Michigan; Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse of Washington state; and Tom Rice of South Carolina.
The remaining 10 GOP representatives from California all voted against impeachment. They include:
- Ken Calvert (Corona)
- Mike Garcia (Santa Clarita)
- Darrell Issa (San Marcos)
- Young Kim (La Habra)
- Doug LaMalfa (Richvale)
- House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Bakersfield)
- Tom McClintock (Elk Grove)
- Devin Nunes (Tulare)
- Jay Obernolte (Big Bear Lake)
- Michelle Steel (Seal Beach)
Last week, Kim and McClintock broke with party lines and were the only California Republicans to oppose the GOP-led objections to Joe Biden’s presidential election victory in a vote that immediately followed last Wednesday’s riot.
In a statement, Kim called the Capitol violence “disgusting” but said she supports censuring Trump rather than impeaching him.
“This would be a strong rebuke of his actions and rhetoric and unite our country and chamber, rather than divide it,” Kim said.
For his part, McClintock delivered an impassioned speech on the House floor Wednesday condemning the “lunatic fringe” who flooded government buildings, but asserting that Trump wasn’t to blame for their actions.
“If we impeached every politician who gave a fiery speech to a crowd of partisans, this Capitol would be deserted,” he said. “That’s what the president did. That’s all he did.”
The impeachment bill draws from Trump’s own false statements about his election defeat and details the pressure he put on state officials in Georgia to “find” him more votes.
But the California Republicans voting against it say they voted in the interest of unifying Americans as the country moves toward a new administration. Most also argued it is too late in Trump’s term to remove him.
“With only a few days left in the Trump Administration, the vote to impeach the President is no more than political theater that runs the risk of further dividing us at a time when we need to come together,” Garcia, who was also recently sworn in after flipped a blue district back red, wrote in a tweet.
Orange County’s Steel — also returning to vote following a positive coronavirus test last week — said Congress has “a responsibility to calm and protect, not instigate and further stoke the divisions that exist in our country.”
McCarthy, a longtime Trump ally, had shifted his position Wednesday in saying the president bears responsibility for Capitol violence. But he still voted against impeachment, saying he too would rather pursue a censure resolution.
Trump was ultimately impeached on a 232-197 vote, with the support more bipartisan than that against Bill Clinton in 1998.
Although the president has now been impeached a second time, a trial isn’t expected to begin in the Senate before next Tuesday. Biden is set to be sworn in on Wednesday.