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Kristin Murphy, KSL

Utah House members not joining other Republicans in vote to impeach President Trump

By Dennis Romboy, Deseret News | Updated - Jan. 13, 2021 at 3:37 p.m. | Posted - Jan. 13, 2021 at 12:18 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. House in a bipartisan vote impeached President Donald Trump on Wednesday for inciting a riot at the Capitol last week that left five people dead.

As expected, Utah's four Republican congressmen voted against impeachment.

"Voting to impeach the president seven days before his departure from office serves little purpose given the Senate will not be able to hold a trial by that time and risks establishing this impeachment as politically motivated," Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, wrote in a joint statement with two Texas Republicans and one from North Carolina.

"Furthermore, the articles are flawed, charging crimes that are lacking the requisite element of intent."

Still, Curtis said he condemns the president's words and actions that contributed to the violence and encourages Americans to similarly condemn him.

Ten Republicans joined 222 House Democrats in passing one article of impeachment charging Trump with "incitement of insurrection," making him the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. The final vote was 232-197.

Trump encouraged his supporters gathered at a rally in Washington, D.C., last Wednesday to march on the Capitol after again falsely asserting that he had won the election and Democrats had stolen it from him. An armed mob stormed the building as Congress counted electoral votes confirming that Biden had won the election.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will not convene the Senate until Jan. 19, a day before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

The New York Times reported that McConnell supported the idea of impeachment, hoping it would move Trump away from the Republican Party. McConnell did not deny the report.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, the only Republican senator who voted to remove Trump from office last year, directly blamed Trump for the insurrection.

In his first speech on the House floor Wednesday, Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, said that without a single hearing or investigation, "I simply cannot reach the high bar of impeachment."

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Noting that he was abandoning the remainder of his prepared remarks, Moore, who took office 10 days ago, vowed to his district that he would be "objective."

"As I listened to this debate, it's no wonder that this nation is divided. We are on an absolute race to the bottom, and I was hoping last week we could have hit rock bottom," he said in the one-minute speech. "I commit to do doing better and I hope that we all can dig in and find a way."

In statement after the vote, Moore said "to my critics — and there will be many — please know that this was the post painful decision I have ever made in my life."

Moore, who was in the House chamber on his third day in Congress when the attack occurred, said he feared for his life and the life of his family last Wednesday.

Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, who also has took office on Jan. 3, said in a prepared statement Wednesday that he would oppose impeaching Trump.

"With only seven days until President-elect Biden takes office, any debate on impeachment will not only deepen the divide, it will also be rushed, purely political and distract from the unprecedented challenges facing Utah families," he said.

Owens said the articles of impeachment raise serious constitutional questions that deserve a full hearing and considerable debate, a lengthy task that will delay the next administration's ability to move forward.

"The constituents in my district want elected officials to get to work and look to the future, and that is what I am committed to doing," he said.

Democrats formally introduced the impeachment resolution Monday, charging Trump with "incitement of insurrection" as they rush to make him the first president in history to be impeached twice.

On Tuesday, the House voted 223-205 to adopt a resolution to compel Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. Pence earlier Tuesday rejected that effort in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

All four of Utah's House members voted against that resolution.

Curtis said before the vote Wednesday that he would not vote to impeach Trump.

"I do not understand the rush to judgment. One of our bedrocks of our judicial system is a fair trial and innocence until proven guilty," he said on C-SPAN. "I think we're robbing those of us who need a little bit more time."

Curtis called Democrats' argument that Trump is a danger to the country every hour he remains in office "hollow."

"It's clearly laughable because everybody knows impeachment won't be concluded by the time the inauguration rolls around," he said.

Biden will be inaugurated Jan. 20.

Curtis urged Pelosi and Democratic leaders to allow time for a full impeachment inquiry so Congress can bring all the facts to light and hold those responsible accountable, including Trump.

He and five other Republicans introduced a resolution late Tuesday to censure the president. Moore also signed onto the resolution.

"Censuring the president and making it clear that Congress does not support any level of his involvement in the riots nor any attempts to undermine an election is a critical step in holding him accountable as more facts continue to unfold," Curtis said.

The resolution calls on Congress to publicly state Trump acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law. It also would condemn him for trying to unlawfully overturn the 2020 presidential election and violating his oath of office as well to affirm that Biden was duly elected.

The resolution isn't likely to go anywhere as House Democratic leaders move ahead with impeachment.

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said Trump is going to leave office in a week.

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Dennis Romboy

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