President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives for the second time – the first time a U.S. president has been impeached twice. All four of Arkansas’ U.S. Representatives voted against impeaching Trump for “inciting an insurrection” in relation to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
Reps. Rick Crawford, French Hill, Bruce Westerman and Steve Womack all voted in opposition to the impeachment. The vote, held on Wednesday, Jan. 13, was 232 to 197 in favor of impeachment, with 10 Republicans voting in favor of the articles of impeachment.
All of the representatives subsequently released statements voicing their opposition to the bill. According to Hill, the impeachment proceedings will cause further harm to the U.S., including incoming President Joe Biden and will “further inflame tensions rather than easing them.”
Calling the impeachment vote a “political exercise,” Hill warned that the effort is likely to “divide and victimize the American people.”
Womack echoed these remarks, stating that the impeachment will “test an already fragile nation.” He went on to describe the impeachment as a distraction to other efforts, such as the COVID-19 pandemic relief effort.
“There is no defending the actions of rioters and the leaders who fanned the flames of insurrection. It was a national disgrace. But no option currently presented before the House will remove the President before his term ends on January 20th. The impeachment vote can therefore only serve to inflame tensions and test an already fragile nation. My position isn’t to appease any party, ideology, or person – it is to start the process of putting our country back together. Congress should be using this moment to solve for the pressing issues of America – defeating the coronavirus, enhancing vaccine distribution, ensuring an orderly transition of government, fighting socialist policies, reinvigorating our economy, and healing the deep divisions we face. Let us not be distracted.”
Both Westerman and Crawford characterized the impeachment as a “rushed process” (in Westerman’s words) that did not provide the opportunity for hearings and limited debate on the charges against Trump.
In a series of Twitter posts, Crawford wrote that he did not support the impeachment because it represented a “rushing and short-circuiting” of the House’s criminal investigative process that could set a “risky precedent” and could result in “widespread abuse.” He recommended establishing a bipartisan commission to investigate the Capitol attack.
The impeachment proceedings will now move to the U.S. Senate. In order to convict a president, two-thirds of the Senate body must vote in favor of impeachment. With the current makeup of the U.S. Senate, all Democrats plus 17 Republicans would have to favor to convict.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has informed senators that the legislative body will not return to session until Jan. 19, one day before the inauguration.