Impeachment divides Wisconsin delegation along party lines

The vote Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump for "incitement of insurrection" ahead of the storming of the U.S. Capitol broke along party lines among Wisconsin's congressional delegation, with all Democrats in support and Republicans against.

The impeachment vote came a week after Trump encouraged loyalists at a rally to "fight like hell" against November's election results before they stormed the U.S. Capitol, resulting in five deaths, including that of a Capitol police officer.

In light of the riot and threats of more violence, security has been increased at the U.S. Capitol and state capitol buildings around the country, including in Madison. Gov. Tony Evers' administration this week boarded up first floor windows and asked building occupants to work remotely through the end of January, if possible, "while law enforcement agencies continue to monitor potential threats."

Evers also activated the Wisconsin National Guard to help protect the state Capitol and on Wednesday said the state was sending 500 troops to Washington, D.C., to help with security related to the Jan. 20 inauguration of incoming President Joe Biden.

The vote to impeach Trump was 232-197, with all five of Wisconsin's Republican House members voted against and all three Democrats in favor.

No House Republicans backed impeaching Trump during his 2019 impeachment vote, but 10 sided with the Democrats during Wednesday's vote.

In 2019, Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, of La Crosse, didn't reveal his vote in support of impeachment before he cast it. But Kind made clear Tuesday that he supported impeachment this time.

"If President Trump has any decency left, he should resign," Kind said ahead of the vote.

Democratic Reps. Mark Pocan and Gwen Moore also voted to impeach.

"We all know whether you say it out loud or not,  Donald Trump is responsible for inciting the attacks on our democracy," said Pocan.

Republican Reps. Mike Gallagher, Bryan Steil, Glenn Grothman, Scott Fitzgerald and Tom Tiffany all voted against impeachment. Fitzgerald and Tiffany, Wisconsin's two newest members of Congress, both objected to certifying presidential election results last week.

Tiffany said during House debate that he hoped Biden would call off the impeachment effort, which Tiffany said would "rub salt in the wounds for millions of Americans."

"Joe Biden has talked about unity and healing," Tiffany said. "Is that what this is today?"

Grothman, during the debate, defended Trump for telling attendees at the rally that preceded the storming of the Capitol to "fight like hell."

"He did say he wanted people to fight like hell or we're not going to have a country anymore, but that's obviously standard hyperbole and was not meant to (have) physical fights," Grothman said.

Those supporting impeachment were ignoring "tens of millions" of people who fear returning to what life was like before Trump, Grothman said.

President Donald Trump (Photo credit: White House)

The president himself also asked to calm tension on Wednesday. In a video message, President Trump did not directly mention the impeachment vote, instead talking about the dangers of limiting free speech and calling for peace during the upcoming inauguration.

"I want to be very clear. I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week. Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country and no place in our movement," the president said.

The impeachment process now moves to the U.S. Senate for a trial, which will most likely not start until Jan. 19 at the earliest.

Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat, said in a tweet that the Senate needs to: "hold (the president) accountable for inciting a violent insurrection against the will of the American people and Congress."

Also on Wednesday, the Wisconsin Democratic Party announced it was launching a six-figure ad buy targeting Sen. Ron Johnson. The Wisconsin Republican has been one of Trump's loudest supporters and has expressed concerns about the legitimacy of the election. He signed on to an objection of certifying Arizona’s election results, then after the riot voted against the objection.

The Democratic Party said the ad, which calls on Johnson to resign, was airing in Wisconsin and in Washington, D.C. Johnson is up for reelection in 2022 but has not said whether he will seek a third term.

Both of Wisconsin's largest newspapers, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Wisconsin State Journal, have both called on Johnson to resign along with Tiffany and Fitzgerald.

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