Washington — Connecticut’s lawmakers joined nearly all of their Democratic House colleagues late Wednesday in voting to impeach  President Donald J. Trump, but that wasn’t their preference — at least not at first.

Connecticut’s lawmakers initially resisted calls from some Democrats seeking Trump’s impeachment, agreeing with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that it it would take time and energy, hurting their ability to press their legislative agenda and result in an almost certain acquittal by a Republican-led Senate.

The complaints of a CIA whistleblower about Trump’s phone call to Ukraine’s leader changed all that.

“As with many of my colleagues, I was reluctant to call for impeachment because I feared it would further divide our country, be perceived as overturning the 2016 election, and go to the United States Senate where Republicans would acquit President Trump regardless of the evidence,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District. “But the president’s unchecked actions gave the Congress no other choice.”

The House voted 230-197 on the first article of impeachment, which says says Trump abused the power of his office by soliciting Ukraine’s help in discrediting a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

There was a smattering of applause among Democrats and loud booing from Republicans when the tally was announced signalling Trump’s impeachment. The vote made Trump the third president in history to be impeached, after Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson.

The House then voted 229-198 on the second article, which accuses Trump of obstructing Congress by trying to block the Democratic inquiry into the Ukrainian matter, denying lawmakers access to witnesses and documents.

“It was a very solemn room,” said Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District of the House chamber. “No one relishes this, but we swore to uphold the law.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, speaking in favor of impeachment.

Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, who was the first member of the Connecticut delegation to support an impeachment inquiry into Trump, was also the only member of that delegation to speak during the impeachment debate Wednesday.

“I am angry that President Donald Trump has treated his oath and office so disrespectfully that now we must hold him accountable,” Himes said during hours of partisan debate. “The truth is clear to anyone not deliberately looking away.”

Alternately, Republicans and Democrats made brief speeches at a lectern on the House floor. There was occasional bipartisan agreement that it was a “solemn” and “sad day.” But that’s where any agreement stopped.

The stark partisan divide over the president’s conduct, mirrored in the division in public opinion over the issue, was on display hour after hour.

Republicans called the impeachment proceedings a “charade” and a “sham” and insisted Trump has done nothing wrong.

Republicans also argued that Trump’s impeachment was inevitable, and Democrats had plotted since the president’s election to overturn the results of the 2016 elections.

“If we’re really being honest,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., “Democrats have been searching for a reason to impeach President Trump since the day he was elected.”

But Democrats said the president had violated his oath of office and they were, as defenders of the U.S. Constitution, honor-bound to impeach him.

“This was not an attempt to reduce Ukrainian corruption,” Himes said of the president’s actions. “This was an attempt by Donald J. Trump to aim Ukrainian corruption straight at the heart of the presidential election of 2020.”

Himes, who as a member of the House Intelligence Committee had a leading role in the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry also said “what makes this impeachment essential is that the president’s abuse of power has not stopped.”

“As we speak, he continues to urge foreign interference in our democracy, beseeching China to investigate the Bidens,  sending (personal lawyer) Rudy Giuliani overseas to chase Russian conspiracy theories,” he said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. would not give a timeline to send impeachment articles to the U.S. Senate. Here she reads the results of the second vote.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi began the historic debate, saying Trump’s actions corrupted the electoral process and threatened national security.

“He gave us no choice,” Pelosi said.

After Wednesday’s historic vote, the Speaker hedged when reporters asked her about reports that the House might not immediately transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate.

Democrats have already stated their concerns that Republicans won’t conduct impartial proceedings at a trial, and Wednesday Pelosi declined to commit to any timeline for sending the articles, which is required to begin the impeachment trial.

“So far we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us,” she said of plans for the Senate trial.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has assured the White House Trump will be acquitted and has indicated he would not allow witnesses to testify at the Senate trial.

Not business as usual

The historic day was a long and unusual one for many lawmakers.

Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-5th District, who is serving in her first term of office, said voting to impeach Trump had put her on an “emotional roller coaster.” She said she woke up Wednesday morning without enthusiasm for the task that lay ahead and wondering “what happens tomorrow?” The enormity of the day struck her, she said, when the two impeachment articles were read on the floor.

“It was one of those moments when you go, ‘This is happening,’” she said.

Hayes said she has close friends and constituents who oppose Trump’s impeachment. She said she’s also heard from those who strongly support impeachment. “It feels like people are picking sides,” she said.

Wednesday’s impeachment proceedings upended the normal work of Congress and that of many lawmakers.

Hayes said she took no meetings Wednesday, nor did she do other work or try to raise campaign cash — normal activities when in Washington D.C. Instead, Hayes said she monitored the speeches on the floor behind the closed door of her office, and had “some quiet time.”

“We’re human beings, too,” Hayes said. “It’s not like this was a traditional day.”

Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, who like Hayes is a former history teacher, also said all normal routine fell by the wayside on Wednesday. He said he convened a meeting with members of his Washington D.C. and district staffs to discuss the historical impact of the day.

“I thought it was important to have a discussion of what it means,” he said. “I also wanted to solicit from them what they heard from friends and family.”

Larson said calls to his office ran “four or five to one” in support of impeaching the president. “But a number of calls were from people concerned about the process,” Larson said. “Impeachment is a serious charge.”

Meanwhile Trump, who wrote a vituperative six-page letter to Pelosi on Tuesday, continued his angry denunciations of the impeachment process.

“SUCH ATROCIOUS LIES BY THE RADICAL LEFT, DO NOTHING DEMOCRATS. THIS IS AN ASSAULT ON AMERICA, AND AN ASSAULT ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!!,” Trump tweeted as the debate began Wednesday.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said Trump delivered his controversial letter to U.S. senators on Wednesday in a very strange manner.

“True story: there is a White House staffer going around the Senate delivering to each office, as a package, the incoherent, scathing Pelosi letter AND…wait for it…a giant 16×12 White House Christmas card (along with, implausibly, a second smaller Christmas card). What a day,’” Murphy tweeted.

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Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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10 Comments

  1. The Only reason the CT democrats “wrestled” with supporting impeachment is because they are afraid how it might affect their upcoming campaigns for re-election in 2020. Nancy P has done her job by whipping the vote regardless of the lack of evidence of any wrong doing. Spineless, or Mindless… every single one of them that voted in favor, is OK with spending $40 million taxpayer dollars to find nothing, along with thousands of hours of no real work getting done in the house for the past 3 1/2 yrs. This impeachment vote is partisanship at its worst, with simple hatred for a former democrat (Trump) who is now exposing their leaders and just shows the psychiatric shortcoming of all that voted in favor.

    1. Hi rumorctinCT, in the interest in fostering deeper discussion, can you provide a citation that validates your claim about the cost of the impeachment investigation?

  2. It is wrong for the House to vote on impeachment without hearing the testimony from the whistle blower. McConnell and Justice Roberts should send the incomplete record back to the House. Testimony from all witnesses called by the Democrats and the Republicans must be heard in the House before the Senate accepts the recommendation for impeachment from the House.

    1. I don’t know that testimony from the whistleblower would add anything of value at this point. The information provided in that person’s complaint has already been corroborated by a multitude of people with more direct knowledge of events. And Trump has prohibited other officials with firsthand knowledge to testify or comply with subpoenas for documentation. Those are the people who SHOULD testify. The only thing to be gained by calling the whistleblower to testify would be to “out” that person.

    2. You do realize that even revealing the name of the whistle blower would be against the law. Additionally, the Articles of Impeachment have not yet been sent to the Senate. There is a ton of information available online if you are so inclined to learn about the process of impeachment. I do agree that ALL witnesses that may have testimony relevant to the trial should be compelled to appear. That includes the impeached president…

  3. William,
    House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler gave President Donald Trump until Dec. 6 to present witnesses and call evidence in upcoming impeachment hearings. He also gave Doug Collins, the ranking committee member of Georgia the exact same opportunity to propose subpoenas ands call witnesses. Both chose not to. Obviously we know why. Trump assails the whistleblowers account of the phone call as “so-oo wrong, not even close” even though the official account from WH/Trump himself of the call that came out showed the whistleblower got the details right. ????? Bizarre-oo. “Read the Transcript” the defenders keep saying???? Well-lll, Yeah, we did! The House is a “hearing”. The Senate is a “Trial”. McConnell is going to conduct a “trial” without witnesses, which wouldn’t be a trial at all. This amounts to a summary judgement. The evidence is far too strong, the obvious reason they do not wish a full blown trial. McConnell says impeachment was rushed and unsupported. Actually, the opposite is true. A very strong case was assembled in very short time, even with the huge obstructionism. Plenty more evidence is there to be unearthed. And it will come out eventually. truth always does. And all Trumps supporters , politicians and voters will live with that shame. The whistleblower did his patriotic duty. Where’s Mulvaney, Blair, Bolton, Duffey, Giuliani and Trump himself? They don’t dare take the stand..

    1. Hi James, we welcome your comments but please note that our guidelines require that comments be limited to 1,000 characters. We will not be able to approve comments that exceed that limit going forward.

  4. just don’t get the whole “read the transcript” defense. It’s like Charles Manson saying “just read the prosecutor’s charges” as his defense.
    What’s scary is that polls show only a very small % of Trump’s base has actually read the transcript. Actually, “scary” is not the word. It’s sad and ignorance.

    1. No, you were right the first time. “Scary” is the appropriate word for intentional, determined, and deliberate ignorance of the facts.

  5. Other than seeking to reverse the 2016 election what are the accomplishments of CT Congressmen ? At least CT’s Democratic Legislators have given us the nation’s only State with a decade long stagnant economy.

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