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East TN Republicans respond after Trump becomes first president to be impeached twice

The impeachment process now moves to the Senate, where a trial is unlikely to occur before the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday became the first U.S. president in history to be impeached twice after the U.S. House of Representatives voted 232-197 in favor of impeaching him for incitement of insurrection following last week's deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The House has only ever voted to impeach a sitting president four times, two of those times now being Trump, and the others Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson.

Ten Republican lawmakers joined Democrats in voting in favor of impeachment -- most notably Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House GOP leader.

"The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” said Cheney in a statement. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

All East Tennessee Republicans in the House voted against the second impeachment.

Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville) said he was against voting to impeach Trump a second time, but said the president "should have called his supporters off "before the protests broke out into a deadly riot last Wednesday.

"Every single thug who rioted last week acted of their own free will and is personally responsible for their crimes. They were not forced by President Trump to do what they did, and the President should have called his supporters off long before he did," Burchett said.

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Chattanooga) wasn't present for Wednesday's vote after testing positive for COVID-19, but had a fellow representative record his 'nay" vote in his stead -- saying he felt impeachment would only "throw fuel on the fire."

“I will be voting against impeaching President Donald Trump, he has seven days left in his term, and he has committed to a peaceful transition of power," he said.

Rep. Diana Harshbarger (R-Kingsport) said she was "strongly opposed" to impeachment -- echoing sentiments that it would "deepen the divide" after months of division over repeated, disproven accusations from the president and other Republicans claiming voter fraud in the 2020 Presidential election.

Following the vote, Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) said she also felt the vote would only "further divide Americans." 

“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,” she said.

The four-page impeachment resolution referenced Trump’s own incendiary rhetoric and the falsehoods he spread about Biden’s election victory, including at a White House rally on the day of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, in making its case for “high crimes and misdemeanors” as demanded in the Constitution.

Trump took no responsibility for the riot, suggesting it was the drive to oust him rather than his actions around the bloody riot that was dividing the country.

“To continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country, and it’s causing tremendous anger,” Trump said Tuesday, his first remarks to reporters since last week’s violence.

During debate before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked Republicans and Democrats to “search their souls."

Trump “must go,” Pelosi said. “He is a clear and present danger to the nation we all love.”

Actual removal seems unlikely before the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Republican leader would not agree to bring the chamber back immediately, all but ensuring a Senate trial could not begin at least until Jan. 19.