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How New Mexico's delegation voted on President Trump's second impeachment

Algernon D'Ammassa
Las Cruces Sun-News

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump became the first U.S. president in history to be impeached twice on Wednesday, as the U.S. House of Representatives voted 232-197 to sanction Trump on a single article for inciting an insurrection on Jan. 6.

A Senate trial is not expected to take place before Trump leaves office on Jan. 20, when Democrat Joe Biden will be inaugurated to succeed him. 

While the vote fell heavily on party lines, 10 Republicans joined the Democratic majority to impeach the president.

New Mexico's Republican House member, Rep. Yvette Herrell from New Mexico's 2nd congressional district, was not among them. 

In a brief floor speech Wednesday, Herrell again argued that both Democratic and Republican leaders were responsible for political violence and said, "I don't believe, Madam Speaker, that the American people have an appetite for this." 

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Herrell was among the lawmakers who objected last week to the certification of Electoral College results that finalized Democrat Joe Biden's victory in the Nov. 3, 2020 presidential election. 

As Congress met on Jan. 6 to certify the election, a large mob of Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, broke in and proceeded to riot as lawmakers took shelter. Some of the rioters wore tactical gear and carried restraints, and guns and pipe bombs were discovered in the area. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said the rioters were "a well-planned, organized group with leadership and guidance and direction. And the direction was to go get people.”

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Preceding the siege, Trump led a rally at the National Mall where he exhorted the crowd to march to the Capitol and said, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore."

U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-N.M., speaks on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives arguing against the impeachment of President Donald Trump as seen on C-Span's broadcast of the session on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021.

This and other statements by the president, including serial lies that the presidential election was "stolen" via widespread fraud and other conspiracy theories, were cited in the House resolution accusing Trump of inciting an insurrection against the government.

Herrell, an avowed supporter of Trump, had announced ahead of Wednesday that she opposed any effort to remove him from office.

New Mexico's two other House members — Democrats Debra Haaland and Teresa Leger Fernández — both voted to impeach Trump. 

Haaland spokeswoman Felicia Salazar said the Congresswoman "believes our democracy must be safeguarded against anyone who threatens insurrection and incites violence." Haaland represents New Mexico's 1st congressional district and is Biden's pick for interior secretary. 

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In a statement following her vote, Leger Fernández, representing the 3rd congressional district in northern New Mexico, said Trump's "never-ending lies and violent rhetoric incited a domestic terrorist attack against our country" and violated his oath of office.

Countering protests by Republicans that the impeachment vote would further divide the country, she said, "Unity and healing begin with accountability."

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U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján praised the House for its action in a statement and said, "The Senate now has the constitutional duty to act, and I will stand up for our republic, defend our democracy, and vote for removal.” 

Yet it was not clear how soon the U.S. Senate, which conducts impeachment trials and votes to convict or acquit, would convene the second part of the impeachment process. 

Members of the National Guard arrive on Capitol Hill during the Impeachment debate and vote in Washington on January 13, 2021. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he would not call the Senate back early in order to initiate the trial, meaning it will not happen before Biden becomes president, leading to the prospect of an impeachment trial taking place as the new president pursues his legislative agenda. 

Trump is only the third president to be impeached. None have been convicted in the Senate, and never has an impeachment process extended beyond a president's term in office. President Richard Nixon resigned ahead of a likely impeachment in 1974, at which point momentum toward a House impeachment vote halted. 

Yet Democrats on Capitol Hill were united in a call to hold Trump to account, denying him the ability to hold federal office again. Trump has floated the possibility of running for president in 2024, although the Capitol riot appeared to wound him politically in the short term. 

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New Mexico's senior U.S. Senator, Democrat Martin Heinrich, called on the Senate to act quickly in a statement he released following the House impeachment vote. 

“Donald Trump incited a mob of insurrectionists who stormed the United States Capitol," Heinrich stated in a news release. "What he did resulted in the death of five people, including a police officer. There must be consequences for this violent assault on our democracy."

Declaring Trump a "clear and present danger" to the republic, Heinrich argued that "holding Donald Trump accountable for his abuse of power is a necessary step in a peaceful transfer of power. There must be justice in order to restore faith in our democracy and heal our country.”

Algernon D'Ammassa can be reached at 575-541-5451, adammassa@lcsun-news.com or @AlgernonWrites on Twitter.