President Donald Trump is now the first in U.S. history to be impeached twice.
Tennessee’s two Democratic representatives, Nashville’s Jim Cooper and Memphis’ Steve Cohen, voted with the majority in favor of impeaching the president for inciting an insurrection. Not a single Tennessee Republican voted in favor of the measure.
The vote in Congress, largely along party lines with only 10 Republicans in the House crossing the aisle, comes at a time of heightened political division following last week’s riots at the U.S. Capitol. Many Republicans say this impeachment decision will serve only to further divide the public, while Democrats say the president must be held accountable.
Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn, who would sit as a juror in impeachment proceedings, issued a statement shortly after the vote:
“To persist with impeachment now, with just days to go in the current administration, will further divide Americans and exacerbate tensions. Moving forward, it is my sincere hope Congress will work on a bipartisan basis to restore the confidence of the American people in our elections, and affirm our shared commitment to the rule of law.”
That no Republicans in Tennessee voted for impeachment fits with their past actions as Trump has sought to overturn the November election through unsubstantiated claims of fraud. Six Tennessee Republicans signed an amicus brief in support of an attempt to throw out the Electoral College results in four states that Trump lost. (U.S. Rep. Diane Harshbarger had not yet taken office.) All seven Republicans voted to overturn those election results on the day of the riot and yesterday opposed a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to try to remove Trump through the 25th Amendment.
Republican Rep. Chuck Fleischmann announced before the impeachment vote that he would be against it.
“I believe we desperately need to begin to heal as a nation,” he wrote. “Impeachment would only throw fuel on the fire.”
I am deeply concerned about our nation’s future. I believe we desperately need to begin to heal as a nation — impeachment would only throw fuel on the fire.
I will be voting against impeaching President Donald Trump.
— Chuck Fleischmann (@RepChuck) January 13, 2021
Meanwhile Cooper tweeted that Trump played a “direct role” in last week’s deadly insurrection and called on him to resign immediately, even before the impeachment goes to a Senate trial.
“He is a threat to America & cannot be allowed to continue to assault our democracy.”
The President played a direct role in the insurrection at our U.S. Capitol building one week ago today. The majority of the House voted to impeach him again today but he should resign immediately. He is a threat to America & cannot be allowed to continue to assault our democracy. pic.twitter.com/Slwsmmtson
— Jim Cooper (@repjimcooper) January 13, 2021
Fellow Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis tweeted, “We can’t let insurrection stand,” and refers to Trump as a “lethal demagogue.”
We have impeached President Donald Trump for the second time.
Last week, terrorists assaulted our democracy after Trump called on them to “march on the Capitol” & “fight like hell.”
We can’t let insurrection stand. We can’t let a lethal demagogue stay in office a moment longer. pic.twitter.com/6jn69LQRUq
— Steve Cohen (@RepCohen) January 13, 2021
Rep. John Rose, R-Cookeville, tweeted that the vote was pushed through without a hearing or a chance to present evidence. His Republican colleague Rep. Tim Burchett of Knoxville released a statement saying that the president should have told his supporters to stop long before he did, but that they acted on their own.
“Every single thug who rioted last week acted of their own free will and is personally responsible for their crimes,” Burchett said. “They were not forced by President Trump to do what they did.”
Republican Rep. Mark Green of Clarksville published a statement yesterday against the impeachment vote, saying pursuing it now will only tear the country further apart.
“I urge all Americans to get off social media, and instead, talk with your neighbors, go to your house of worship, and call that family member you always argue with at Thanksgiving,” he said.
Rep. Diana Harshbarger, a Republican from the northeastern tip of the state, also released a statement yesterday opposing efforts to remove Trump from office. She says the impeachment is “nothing more than a way [for Democrats] to score political points with their base.”
WPLN’s Chas Sisk contributed to this report.