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Impeachment vote, praise or outrage, along party lines with Florida members

Fair, transparent, thorough, or Soviet style justice; presidential crimes or deep state setup

Florida’s Democrats and Republicans lined up with their parties Thursday as the U.S. House of Representatives voted on formal rules for an impeachment process for President Donald Trump, with Democrats offering strong statements for and Republicans angry statements against.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa declared the President must be held accountable for his “ethical and criminal violations.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto of Kissimmee tweeted a graphic spelling out three allegations against Trump: Abuse of power, bribery, and obstruction of justice.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston declared, “Our elections and national security cannot be recklessly threatened by this President.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach declared that the matter is not a crime by the President but “a setup by the deep state.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Steube of Sarasota insisted, “This resolution is filled with egregious tactics that prevent the minority and President Trump from having any meaningful part.”

The White House released a statement declaring that “The President has done nothing wrong, and the Democrats know it.” The statement called the impeachment process unhinged and illegitimate.

More broadly, fairness, and lack of fairness were the themes as Democrats and Republicans brought strongly different perspectives to whether the process so far has been appropriate and full of revealing evidence that Trump acted inappropriately pressuring Ukraine to dig dirt on Democrats, or a scam full of innuendo aimed at supporting Democrats’ desire to overturn the 2016 presidential election.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park insisted the resolution lays out a process that is “open, fair, and transparent as possible.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn of Panama City called it “Soviet style justice.”

The final vote on House Resolution 660 was 232 yes and 196 no, with four members not voting. That included yeses from all 13 Florida Democrats and nos from all 14 Florida Republicans. Nationally, two Democrats broke with their party. No Republicans did.

One no vote came from Republican U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney of Naples, who is one of the few Republican members of the House who has expressed strong concerns about some of the findings thus far from the impeachment probe. Rooney had some good things to say about the process Thursday but said it falls short of what it could and should be.

Castor said the matter is one of national security and there must be accountability for Trump’s “ethical and criminal violations.”

“America’s national security is paramount. Today, I voted to support the impeachment inquiry into the abuse of power of President Trump and to determine the extent of his wrongdoing. The President has elevated himself above the law in his attempt to extort the newly-elected President of Ukraine to manufacture smears against an American political opponent. Trump put his personal political interests above America’s national security interests, and he must be held accountable. No one is above the law. The American people deserve to know the full story,” she declared in a lengthy statement.

“Today’s vote establishes a fair procedure for hearings that are open to the American people, authorizes the disclosure of important documents, including deposition transcripts, and sets forth due process rights for the President and his Counsel. Affirming the impeachment inquiry will eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump Administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of Representatives. Trump administration officials are doing the right thing by coming forward – and Trump is wrong to try to cover up and obstruct the investigation by blocking witnesses from appearing and smearing the character of dedicated public servants,” Castor continued.

“The American people deserve to understand the depth and breadth of Trump’s ethical and criminal violations, so the House will continue working to uphold the rule of law by proceeding deliberately and following the facts wherever they may lead,” Castor added.

Gaetz quickly took to FOX News Thursday morning to declare his outrage to the resolution and the impeachment process. He then tweeted, “This is not a crime by the president. This is a set up by the deep state.”

“The Dems have wanted to impeach  @realDonaldTrump since before the ink was dry on his election certificate. This resolution was another attempt to legitimize a sham process that has been tainted since January 20, 2017 The American people see this for what it is. #ImpeachmentVote,” Gaetz tweeted.

Among other statements from Florida’s members:

Democratic U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach: “It’s time for the American people to hear the extent of President Trump’s abuse of power. House Democrats are conducting a methodical, thorough and factual investigation to follow the facts and uncover the extent to which Trump’s actions threatened our national security and the extent of the cover-up. The President will be held accountable because no one is above the law.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Ross Spano of Dover: “Today, I opposed the resolution that attempts to justify the sham impeachment process. While the Democrats have said that this resolution will ensure a fair, open, and transparent process, I find it difficult to get behind a resolution that would only allow Republicans to issue subpoenas if Chairman [Adam] Schiff believes it is necessary to the investigation. I have no reason to believe that the man who has barred us from the current depositions will now provide an open and balanced approach going forward.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton: “We have conducted this impeachment inquiry responsibly and methodically. We are following the House Rules, respecting historical precedent, and fulfilling our oath to support the Constitution. And we carry a full understanding of the grave responsibility we hold. With this vote, the House is proceeding toward a full and fair consideration of the evidence that will allow the American people to hear firsthand the mounting evidence against the President.”

Dunn: “This vote is more political theatre, as Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats try to backtrack and validate the tainted process of their partisan witch hunt against President Trump. Their goal has been impeachment since November 9, 2016. They want to undo the election. The reason they haven’t presented any evidence is that they have none. This ‘Soviet style justice’ is an insult to our democracy. This investigation would not stand up in any court in the United States and should not stand up in the House of Representatives.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg: “Testimony in recent weeks by senior Trump Administration officials has only heightened concerns that the President sought to leverage military aid to an ally under attack, in exchange for investigating a political opponent. A President putting personal political interest above our country’s national security interests is unacceptable. It rises to the level whereby impeachment must be considered. As the Founding Fathers designed, the House will continue to follow the facts where they lead as a co-equal branch of government. No one is above the law – not even the President. The American people deserve the truth, and we will uphold our Oath of Office to protect and defend the Constitution.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster of Clermont: “Democrats’ actions have undermined due process and innocent until proven guilty. This resolution is merely one more attempt to deceive Americans by claiming it provides transparency and due process. In reality, this sham resolution does nothing to change the Democrats’ soviet-style impeachment process. Nothing in this resolution prevents Rep. Schiff or Democrat Leadership from continuing to effectively block access and deny all sitting members of Congress access to review complete transcripts of witness interviews and other documents. With this resolution, in their zeal to overturn the results of the 2016 General Election, Democrats are merely doubling down on their tainted, secretive impeachment inquiry.

Murphy: “This resolution will ensure the process continues to be as open, fair, and transparent as possible. Our focus must be on bringing all the facts to light and pursuing the truth for the American people.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan of Longboat Key: “Moments ago, I voted against Nancy Pelosi’s partisan impeachment resolution. It’s a sad day in America when one party tries to remove a president who was democratically elected by the people. The election is a year away – let the voters decide.”

Soto: “Here is a summary of the allegations against President Trump. We have a constitutional duty to investigate these potential abuses of power. This is why I support the #impeachmentinquiry.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz of St. Augustine Beach: “I voted no on the impeachment resolution today. Impeachment is a serious power granted to Congress. Unfortunately, this process has been one-sided and secretive – and I still don’t have access to documents related to impeachment that I requested nearly a month ago. This process will continue to be unfair and a major distraction from tackling America’s problems.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson of Tallahassee: “We have a system in place to protect our democracy that stipulates that no one is above the law – including the President of the United States. President Trump’s inexcusable conduct in pressuring a foreign country to interfere in our 2020 election endangers our national security and demonstrates his unrelenting disregard of the law. This resolution sets the framework to hold public hearings as we move forward with the impeachment proceedings. We are taking this step to ensure the President remains accountable, eliminate any doubt as to whether his administration may continue to withhold documents, and prevent the White House from blocking witness testimony.”

Rooney: “As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I have had the opportunity to take part in the closed-door hearings of the last several weeks and have found them to be fair to the participants; everyone has been able to have their questions answered except for one day which was unfortunately restricted. However, the majority of Congress, our news media and the American people have not had this access.

“While today’s resolution opens the way the hearings will be conducted in many ways, which is an improvement, the process is still less open to having all sides represented than prior impeachments. A truly judicial process like deployed in the Nixon and Clinton cases would be the best solution to assure due process. As to the merits of the impeachment case itself, I have consistently kept an open mind and listened to the facts as presented – and will continue to do so.”

Wasserman Schultz: “Our elections and national security cannot be recklessly threatened by this President. Mounting evidence shows that Trump betrayed his oath and abused his power by withholding vital military assistance to Ukraine to combat Russian aggression and pressured the Ukrainian President to investigate his political opponents, all for his own personal and political gain. For that, there must be accountability. So I support today’s vote to fully investigate whether President Trump pressured a foreign country to investigate his political opponents, interfere with the 2020 election and determine whether there were attempts to cover up that conduct. No one, including this president, is above the law.”

Steube: “Today, the House voted on a set of rules and guidelines to govern the Democrats’ latest attempt to undo the 2016 presidential election, after a month of secret hearings in the basement of the Capitol. All Republicans stood together against the measure. This resolution is filled with egregious tactics that prevent the minority and President Trump from having any meaningful part in this so-called impeachment inquiry and demonstrates to the American people that this is nothing but an attempt to subvert the will of nearly 63 million voters. History will not look kindly on what was done today.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho of Gainesville: “For thirty-eight days Democrats have pushed ahead with an unauthorized impeachment probe behind closed doors. White House counsel has never been part of the process, Republicans are not allowed to call witnesses, and there is a gag order on all depositions- but Democrats leak facts to the press. That is not a fair process. There has been no transparency or official authorization to conduct these inquiries; which ignores decades of impeachment precedent.

“However, today, Speaker Pelosi decided to cover her bases and offer a resolution that lays out guidelines and make the process more transparent. It seems that Speaker Pelosi has forgotten the previous bipartisan precedent established with Presidents Nixon and Clinton. You can’t conduct an impeachment inquiry for over a month and then decide to layout guidelines after the fact.

“The power to impeach a sitting president is great and one that should not be used lightly. We are witnessing an abuse of power, the willful disregard of precedent, and the American people deserve better.”

The White House statement: “The President has done nothing wrong, and the Democrats know it. Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats’ unhinged obsession with this illegitimate impeachment proceeding does not hurt President Trump; it hurts the American people. Instead of focusing on pressing issues that impact real families, like reducing gun violence, passing the USMCA, improving healthcare, lowering prescription drug costs, securing our southern border, and modernizing our aging infrastructure, the Democrats are choosing every day to waste time on a sham impeachment—a blatantly partisan attempt to destroy the President.

“With today’s vote, Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats have done nothing more than enshrine unacceptable violations of due process into House rules. Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Schiff and the Democrats conducted secret, behind-closed-door meetings, blocked the Administration from participating, and have now voted to authorize a second round of hearings that still fails to provide any due process whatsoever to the Administration. The Democrats want to render a verdict without giving the Administration a chance to mount a defense. That is unfair, unconstitutional, and fundamentally un-American.”

Terrie Rizzo, chair of the Florida Democratic Party: “Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats have conducted this investigation with the highest standards for the rule of law. Meanwhile, Donald Trump and his Republican acolytes have conducted an obstruction and contempt for justice campaign. From barging into secure briefings, hiding behind executive privilege, to disregarding subpoenas, Trump and Republicans have proven why this impeachment investigation is needed.

“The more we have learned about Trump’s actions, the more it confirms that he has committed acts that are worthy of being impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. Today’s vote was an important step in getting to the truth and holding Trump and his Republican allies accountable.”

From the Republican National Committee: “Florida Democrats have sealed their fate. Today’s vote goes to show that this impeachment witch hunt has been a sham from the beginning, and Democrats have thrown all precedent, due process and transparency out the window in their fanatical quest to take down President Trump.

“Democrats like Charlie Crist, Stephanie Murphy, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, and Donna Shalala chose to side with Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff and the socialist squad over their constituents, and have officially committed political malpractice. Americans will remember how these Democrats chose to pursue division and investigation over progress and promises.”

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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