The Lehigh Valley’s representative in Congress joined other Democrats and a handful of Republicans in voting to impeach President Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection Wednesday, a week after the deadly attack by Trump supporters on the U.S. Capitol.
Prior to the historic roll call vote on the House floor, Wild confirmed in a post on her Congressional Facebook page that she would vote in favor of Trump’s impeachment.
“I didn’t come to Congress to impeach the president, but he has left us no other choice,” Wild said. “Today’s vote isn’t about party, it’s about protecting our democracy.”
The vote to impeach Trump Wednesday was 232 in favor of impeachment and 197 opposed to it, with four abstentions. Ten Republicans crossed the aisle to join Democrats, who control the House and voted unanimously to take the unprecedented action.
In her Facebook post, Wild shared a statement by Republican representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who denounced Trump for his alleged involvement in the insurrection and later voted to impeach the president.
Kinzinger said “there is no doubt in my mind that the President of the United States broke his oath of office and incited this insurrection.”
In a video uploaded to Twitter, Wild said she was “happy a number of my Republican colleagues will (vote to impeach)” but noted that “we could have been further unified by an overwhelming number of Republicans joining us to vote in favor of impeachment.”
“To those who say that this is going to further divide the country, I would suggest that holding someone accountable is never a divisve action, especially when it’s our Commander-in-Chief,” she added.
Wanted to give you a quick update before I went in to the Capitol to vote: pic.twitter.com/lGBV8Xjefr— Rep. Susan Wild (@RepSusanWild) January 13, 2021
The move to impeach Trump came after Vice President Mike Pence turned down calls for him to invoke the 25th Amendment of the Constitution following the insurrection, in order to remove Trump from office for the remainder of his term.
Wild said she supported using the 25th Amendment in a news release last Friday in which she called it “the patriotic responsibility of every member of Congress to reaffirm our democracy and protect it in our time and for generations to come.”
Wednesday’s vote marked the second time Trump has been impeached by the House, and the first time in American history that a president has been impeached twice.
His first impeachment trial–on charges of obstruction of Congress and abuse of power–ended with acquittal in the U.S. Senate nearly a year ago.
The vote Wednesday was taken amid a raging coronavirus pandemic, with several cases in Congress being traced to the day of the attack, when representatives, senators, staff, reporters and others were forced to shelter together in confined spaces for hours.
In a Facebook post Tuesday, Wild criticized Republican colleagues who refused to wear masks at the time and called the refusal a “political stunt (that) is costing lives.”
“I’m joining my friend, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, in calling on House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and members of his party to properly wear masks,” she said. “Their disregard for clear, nonpartisan medical advice has put the health of their colleagues and Capitol staff at risk.”
The impeachment vote was taken with COVID-19 safety protocols in place, one week before President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th president.
It also occurred amid a climate of anxiety due to threats of further violence by Trump loyalists–both in the nation’s capital and all 50 state capitals–who continue to believe Biden’s election victory was fraudulent.
Trump has repeatedly stoked that claim–despite a lack of evidence–since losing both the popular and Electoral College votes to Biden in November. He repeated it again at a “Stop the Steal” rally held just prior to the Jan. 6 insurrection, at which he enjoined thousands of attendees to march on the Capitol, where Congress was meeting to count and certify the Electoral College votes won by Biden. The largely ceremonial procedure was derailed when the building was stormed and had to be temporarily evacuated.
Capitol Police were overwhelmed in their efforts to hold back the mob, and one officer was killed when he was beaten and suffered a stroke. An insurrectionist was shot and killed by a Capitol police officer and three other Trump supporters died due to medical emergencies they suffered. A second Capitol police officer whose death has been linked to the attack reportedly took his own life several days later.
The Electoral vote count resumed late on Jan. 6 and ended at close to 4 a.m. the following day, with Vice President Mike Pence confirming the results of the count in favor of Biden.
Just hours earlier, video recorded during the riot captured outraged Trump supporters chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” over his anticipated confirmation of Biden’s win, after Trump told them “If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.” A crude gallows was also constructed outside the Capitol building, which some of the attackers toured–allegedly for reconnaissance purposes–in the days leading up to it.
The FBI and other agencies are investigating the insurrection as an act of domestic terrorism, with charges already announced in several dozen cases.
Charges up to and including murder and sedition are possible in hundreds of cases, which together comprise one of the largest investigations in modern American history.
“We cannot do our job without the help of the American people,” FBI Washington Field Office Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono said Tuesday. “Since our call for tips, videos and pictures, we have received more than 100,000 pieces of digital media–which is absolutely fantastic–and are scouring every one for investigative and intelligence leads. We continue to ask for more. If you have information, contact 1-800-CALL-FBI or submit photos and videos to fbi.gov/USCapitol—that’s Capitol with an O.”
The next step in the impeachment process is to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, which Democrats will narrowly control upon Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
The timing of a trial there, as well as its outcome, remain uncertain.
Meanwhile, 15,000 armed National Guard troops–including some from Pennsylvania–have been deployed to Washington, D.C., in preparation for what will be an inauguration unlike any other. Many are resting in shifts inside the Capitol, which has been retrofitted with metal detectors and encircled by tall fencing over the past week.