The Capital District congressional delegation contains some of President Donald J. Trump’s most frequent critics, and also one of his nationally prominent defenders in U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik.
All voted as expected in Wednesday’s 232-197 vote to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection” in connection with the Jan. 6 mob assault on the U.S. Capitol when Congress met to certify the results of the presidential election Trump lost.
The New York delegation mostly voted along party lines, though Republican Rep. John Katko of Syracuse broke with his party, and was one of 10 Republicans to support impeachment.
“It cannot be ignored that President Trump encouraged this insurrection — both on social media ahead of January 6th, and in his speech that day,” Katko said in a statement Tuesday evening ahead of the vote. “By deliberately promoting baseless theories suggesting the election was somehow stolen, the president created a combustible environment of misinformation, disenfranchisement, and division. When this manifested in violent acts on January 6th, he refused to promptly and forcefully call it off, putting countless lives in danger.”
“To allow the President of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy. For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action. I will vote to impeach this President,” Katko said.
The two Capital Region Democrats in the House — Rep. Antonio Delgado and Rep. Paul Tonko — declared ahead of the vote that they would seek Trump’s removal if he didn’t resign, or if Trump’s cabinet didn’t invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him.
Delgado, of Rhinebeck, who represents the 19th Congressional District, was among the sponsors of the impeachment resolution on Monday, and voted in favor of it Wednesday.
“Joined by colleagues on both sides of the aisle, I voted today to protect and defend our democracy and the Constitution of the United States,” Delgado said. “With this vote, the House both affirmed and united around our nation’s democratic principles — peaceful transition of power; equality under the law; one person, one vote. I’m calling on the Senate to follow our bipartisan example in the House and to act swiftly in order to defend our democracy from ongoing threats.”
Tonko, of Amsterdam, who placed himself in precautionary quarantine on Tuesday after being in close proximity last week to representatives since diagnosed with COVID, was not in attendance and cast his vote in favor of impeachment by proxy.
“(Trump) spent years using his bully pulpit to normalize violence and spread lies and conspiracy, all of which fed into his efforts to undermine the 2020 election and drove a mob to assault the Capitol last week in a siege that left six Americans dead — including two Capitol Police officers — and dozens injured, some of them permanently,” the Rug City native who represents the 20th Congressional District said in a statement.
“If inciting deadly violence against a co-equal branch of government in the citadel of our democracy isn’t a removable offense, then nothing is,” Tonko’s statement concluded.
During hours of debate, some Republicans who opposed impeachment were defiant, accusing the Democrats of persecuting Trump, while others criticized the attack on the Capitol and Trump’s actions, but accused the Democrats of a rushed process that didn’t allow for hearings, witnesses, or serious consideration of issues and evidence.
21st Congressional District Rep. Stefanik, R-Saratoga, who was a prominent defender of Trump during his 2020 impeachment, voted against the resolution to impeach him again, and attacked the Democrats who sought the president’s removal.
“I am vehemently opposed to the snap impeachment of President Trump,” Stefanik said in a statement after the vote. “It is a partisan ploy with no basis in the Constitution. The Democrats’ decision to impeach the President with one week remaining in his term further fuels the divisions in the country during this very trying time. As members of the United States Congress, we should focus on unifying our country by delivering solutions to the American people.”
No one voted on behalf of the residents of the 22nd Congressional District, since the November contest between incumbent Democrat Anthony Brindisi and Republican former congresswoman Claudia Tenney remains undecided. A judge is currently reviewing disputed ballots, and neither was sworn in on Jan. 3.
Action will next shift to the U.S. Senate, where both New York’s U.S. senators, Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, have said Trump needs to be removed from office.
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