U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz, an Ontario attorney, voted against the article of impeachment of President Trump this afternoon in the House of Representatives.
This story has been updated with information on the article of impeachment, how the rest of Oregon's Congressional delegation voted and statements from Bentz and U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho.
WASHINGTON, D.C - U.S. Rep Cliff Bentz on Wednesday voted against the second impeachment of President Donald Trump but he was in the minority.
The House of Representatives reached the required number of “yes” votes to impeach the president at about 2:30 p.m. Ontario time. Lawmakers approved the article of impeachment by a vote of 232-197 with four lawmakers still to vote. The House needed 217 yes votes to impeach the president.
The other members of Oregon’s congressional delegation – Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader, all Democrats – voted to impeach Trump.
All of the no votes were cast by Republican lawmakers but 10 members of the GOP - including two Republicans from Washington state - joined Democrats in supporting the impeachment.
Trump is the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice.
Bentz’s spokesman, Nick Clemens, confirmed Bentz voted against the article of impeachment.
Bentz said he voted against impeachment "because our focus should be on unifying our nation, ensuring a peaceful transition to the Biden Administration, and working to address the pressing issues facing our country and Oregon's Second Congressional District."
"I continue to share the emotions many are feeling in the aftermath of the unprecedented and unacceptable violence this past week. But the current rush-to-judgement impeachment proceedings have only succeeded in dividing our country even more," said Bentz.
U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, echoed Bentz's views.
"We cannot continue to demonize each other. We have seen where hate and division lead. Today’s vote unfortunately does not put us on a path to healing. Impeachment is one of the gravest acts that Congress can take, and no matter what the accusation is, our Constitution guarantees every American the right to due process," Simpson said.
While significant, the House vote is only the first part of the two-step impeachment process.
The Senate must now ponder whether to remove the president through a trial where the senators act as the jury. The key question for senators is if the president committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
The House vote demands only a simple majority to decide the president committed crimes while the Senate vote requires a two-third majority.
The vote on the article of impeachment followed a Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., that resulted in five deaths, more than 50 police officers injured and damage throughout the building. At the time, Bentz was with his staff in a neighboring Congressional office building.
The impeachment article cited “insurrection” as the “high crime and misdemeanor” of which the president is accused. The article charged that Trump violated his sworn duty to the Constitution when he lied about winning the presidential election on Jan. 6. As the rally where Trump was speaking continued, said the article, Trump made increasingly incendiary comments that eventually incited the crowd to violence. Specifically, the article cited Trump’s comment that “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore” as emblematic of his remarks.
The article also cited a Jan. 2 phone call that Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which he threatened and intimidated him in an effort to “find” enough votes to change the results of the presidential election in Georgia.
It also outlined its own purpose as greater than simply removing Trump from power, which, as detractors of the impeachment have pointed out, is happening anyway on Jan. 20. If Trump is impeached following a trial in the Senate, Congress could ban him from holding future public office in the U.S. and to strip him of post-presidency benefits like the $219,200 yearly pension.