White House

Impeachment Agitates Partisan Passions

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a media briefing ahead of a House vote authorizing an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, October 31, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
Republicans aren't joining the impeachment effort.

The House of Representatives voted 232–196 to make its impeachment proceedings against President Trump official and open rather than formal and closed. Evolving from circus to soap opera might be a marginal improvement. Regardless, Roll Call No. 604 was pure, raw, Democratic hyper-partisanship.

On October 31, 231 Yeas came from Democrats and one independent. The Nays included two Democrats and 194 Republicans. Exactly 0 percent of the House members in President Trump’s party voted to initiate his impeachment.

This action completely lacked the bipartisanship of the votes to launch the impeachments of presidents Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon.

In Roll Call No. 498, on October 8, 1998, the House voted 258–176 to commence Clinton’s impeachment. Among those in favor, 227 were Republicans and 31 were Democrats. Those opposed were 175 Democrats and one independent. So, 15 percent of Democrats voted to start impeachment against Clinton.

“We cannot excuse that kind of misconduct because we happen to belong to the same party as the president or agree with him on issues or feel tragically that the removal of the president from office would be enormously painful for the United States of America,” said Representative Paul McHale (D., Pennsylvania). “Having deliberately provided false testimony under oath, the president, in my judgment, forfeited his right to office.”

“Let the president make his case,” Representative Dennis Kucinich (D., Ohio) argued less ominously. “Give him a chance to clear his name and get back to the job.

Roll Call No. 21 on February 6, 1974, was even more dramatic. The House voted 410-4 to open the impeachment of President Nixon. The Yeas numbered 232 Democrats, 177 Republicans, and one independent. The Nays involved no Democrats and four Republicans. A whopping 98 percent of Republicans voted to inaugurate impeachment procedures against their party’s president, as this image shows.

“I think we all should regard it as being a very solemn occasion,” said Representative John Rhodes (R., Arizona), who voted Yea. “I think in this way we can best serve the interests of our country and have this inquiry go ahead and be ended as rapidly as possible.”

“If the controversy surrounding the President is to be laid to rest, it must be explained fully, and the power of subpoena will assure that all relevant data will be taken into consideration,” said Representative Robert Bauman (R., Maryland), another yes vote.

The House voted 128-47 on February 24, 1868 to originate the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. The Yeas numbered 127 Republicans and one independent. The Nays included 44 Democrats and three independents. Then as now, this was a party-line vote, with 0 percent of Democrats voting to trigger impeachment against their party’s president.

(For more details on this 19th-century decision, please see the attached spreadsheet here.)

This also was a time of monumental division, fewer than three years after the Civil War ended. Indeed, no representatives of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, or South Carolina voted on impeachment (or anything else), since those states were not re-admitted to the Union until June 1868. How fitting, then, that Democrat divisiveness broils just as a recent battleground poll finds that typical voters think America is 67 percent toward the “edge of a civil war.”

The evidence that Democrats developed in secret is unlikely to sway Republicans.

  • According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the supposed victim of President Trump’s alleged demand that he investigate Joe and Hunter Biden or lose $391 million in American military aid: “There was no pressure or blackmailfrom the U.S.” Zelensky added: “I had no idea the military aid was held up” when he and Trump spoke on July 25. How could Zelensky feel unthreatened yet be extorted?
  • Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, revised his secret testimony thusly: “By the beginning of September 2019, and in the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid, I presumed that the aid suspension had become linked to the proposed anti-corruption statement,” supposedly requested of Ukrainian officials. Sondland did not know this. He presumed it. This is a polite way to say: Sondland jumped to conclusions. 
  • “I asked the president an open-ended question. ‘What do you want from Ukraine?’” Sondland also testified. “He [Trump] said: ‘I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. I want Zelensky to do the right thing.’ And I said, ‘What does that mean?’ And he said, ‘I want him to do what he ran on.’”
  • According to a now-released transcript, the ever-impressive Representative Lee Zeldin (R., New York) asked Kurt Volker, former U.S. envoy to Ukraine, “And in no way, shape, or form in either the readouts from the United States or Ukraine did you receive any indication whatsoever for anything that resembles a quid pro quo?” Volker replied: “Correct.”
  • Former National Security Council aide Tim Morrison listened in on the Trump/Zelensky call. “I want to be clear,” Morrison testified October 31. “I was not concerned that anything illegal was discussed.”

Since Volker’s comment, Sondland himself has said that he told Ukrainian officials that the military assistance would not flow until Zelensky publicly announced a probe into Burisma, the Ukrainian oil-and-gas company that paid Hunter Biden a reported $50,000 a month to serve on its board of directors. The public impeachment hearings that begin Wednesday may clarify whether Sondland acted on his own aforementioned presumption, rather than on instructions from someone else, or obeyed an as-yet-unseen impulse. In any case, Ukraine received the aid without ever declaring (or apparently even launching) any such investigation.

Democrats must present real proof if they expect Republicans to join their relentless anti-Trump wild-goose chase. Conversely, if Democrats want to accomplish nothing with their hard-fought majority, but to tear America in two, with zero GOP  participation, then they should keep up the bad work.

Michael Malarkey contributed research for this article.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online.

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