These Are the Two Democrats Who Broke with Their Party in the House Impeachment Vote

Two Democrats broke from party ranks Thursday—Reps. Jeff Van Drew (D-NY) and Collin Peterson (D-MN)—to vote against the House resolution that formally authorizes an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

The final vote was 232 to 196 and was mostly along party lines, with Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI) voting with Democrats. He became an Independent earlier this year after coming out as the first and only Republican to support impeachment. No Republican voted for the resolution.

The resolution lays out the ruled for how public hearings will be conducted and sets parameters for how the evidence gathered through the investigation will be relayed to the Judiciary Committee, as well as for Republicans' subpoena power and Trump's due process rights.

Van Drew and Peterson are the only Democrats who do not back the chamber's inquiry. Four moderate, freshmen members in swing districts who had been eyed as hold-outs—Jared Golden of Maine, Anthony Brindisi of New York, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma and Joe Cunningham of South Carolina—voted for the resolution, a sign they support the investigation. Ron Kind of Wisconsin, a Democratic holdout who's been in Congress since the late 1990s, also voted yes.

Cunningham has rejected the notion the vote means he backs the inquiry because it was centered on rules and process to increase transparency.

Van Drew is a moderate freshman who flipped a Trump district in 2018. He's long been against impeachment proceedings because he said he feared the move could further divide Washington and potentially backfire on the party in next year's election. He told Newsweek earlier this week that evidence from the Ukraine scandal may never reach his threshold for impeachment.

"The odds are if you really look at it objectively: He'll be impeached here, they'll then go to the Senate, he'll be vindicated," Van Drew told Newsweek. "So, he will still be the president and he will be able to go around and say, 'I have been vindicated because I was not impeached.'"

Peterson has served in Congress since 1991, but Trump won his district by 30 points in 2016. In a statement following his vote,the longtime lawmaker said the impeachment process is "hopelessly partisan." But while he has "serious concerns" with the closed-door depositions thus far, Peterson is "skeptical" they'll "have a process that his open, transparent and fair."

"Today's vote is both unnecessary and widely misrepresented in the media and by Republicans as a vote on impeachment," he continued. "I will not make a decision on impeachment until all the facts have been presented."

lawmakers broke party rank impeachment resolution
Fall foliage is on display in front of the U.S. Capitol on October 30 in Washington, DC. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty

Republicans have opposed the impeachment process, relentlessly criticizing their colleagues across the aisle for conducting the investigation in private, not allowing them to summon their own witnesses or allowing the president's counsel to be present and not authorizing the inquiry by way of a vote.

Democrats have countered these steps are normal in the initial portion of impeachment proceedings, and that holding a vote to open an inquiry is not needed.

Members spoke on the House floor before the vote where Republicans lobbed attacks and Democrats defended themselves.

"The House Intelligence Committee has ceased to exist," said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee. "We now have a full-fledged impeachment committee in the basement of the Capitol."

The impeachment inquiry has been spearheaded by Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), who Republicans have accused of breaking House rules by operating the initial steps of the inquiry in secrecy in a secure room within the Capitol building's basement. As a form of rebuke and an effort that Trump likely viewed favorably, dozens of GOP members stormed the room earlier this month and temporarily shut down a witness interview.

"Trying to put a ribbon on a sham process doesn't make it any less of a sham," said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the ranking member of the Oversight Committee. "What is this resolution? It gives them more power to run a secret proceeding in a bunker in the basement of the Capitol."

Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), the top Republican on Judiciary, suggested his committee, which would be the panel to draft articles of impeachment, has "been neutered" and "sidelined" because only members of Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs are allowed to attend the closed-door depositions.

Democrats vehemently defended their inquiry and the process in which it's been conducted. They highlighted Republicans' focus on the process of the investigation rather than the allegations of potential wrongdoing with relation to the Ukraine scandal it's revealed.

"Sadly, this is not any cause for any glee or comfort," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "This is something that is very solemn, that is something prayerful. And that we have to gather so much information to take us to this next step."

What will immediately occur next and when public hearings will begin is still unknown, as impeachment investigators continue to conduct private depositions.

"This resolution sets the stage for the next phase of our investigation, one in which the American people will have the opportunity to hear from the witnesses firsthand," Schiff said. "We will continue to conduct this inquiry with the seriousness of purpose that our task deserves because it is our duty, and because no one is above the law."

This story was updated to include a statement from Rep. Collin Peterson.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly classified Rep. Kind as a freshman member. This has been fixed, and Newsweek regrets the error.

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