U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, listens to colleagues Tuesday during a meeting of the U.S. House Rules Committee. The committee was considering whether to bring articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the House floor. (Photo by Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images)
Photo: Pool
Photo: Pool

Georgia delegation prepares for full House vote on Trump impeachment

As early as Wednesday evening, the U.S. House could take a final vote on whether to impeach President Donald Trump.

A mostly party-line split is expected, which is how the impeachment investigation has unfolded since the very start. And that holds true, so far, for Georgia’s congressional delegation, with Republicans opposing impeachment and Democrats in support.

U.S. Reps. Hank Johnson and Lucy McBath joined fellow Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee in recommending two impeachment charges against Trump: obstruction of Congress and abuse of power. McBath, of Marietta, flipped her seat from red to blue in 2018 and faces a tough rematch next year.

Still, she came out strongly in support of impeaching Trump after last week’s hearings. She said testimony from national security and intelligence officials convinced her that the president had broken the law.

“I believe the president abused the power of his office, putting his own interests above the needs of our nation — above the needs of the people I love and serve,” McBath said. “For that, I must vote my conscience.”

Several other Democrats who also represent swing districts have similarly voiced support for impeachment. Johnson, who lives in Lithonia and represents a solidly Democratic district, said he admires McBath for taking her stand.

“I respect her for her courage and for her willingness to do what’s right, regardless of its political impact on her because she knows that her district is evenly split,” he said.

But Republicans have a very different take on impeachment. U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, the GOP’s top-ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, continued to criticize Democrats for what he said has been a process that treats Trump unfairly and is driven mainly by partisanship.

U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, a Lawrenceville Republican, expressed those same concerns during Tuesday’s Rules Committee meeting where another party-line vote was expected. A Rules Committee vote is the last procedural hurdle before impeachment can come to the House floor.

Woodall accused Democrats of blocking Republicans from calling their own witnesses during the inquiry and said the GOP’s request for its own impeachment hearing has been ignored.

“I would argue it could have been a fair process; it simply wasn’t,” Woodall said.

The Rules Committee was still meeting as of press time Tuesday evening. If the committee signed off on impeachment as expected, the House will begin debate on the two charges Wednesday afternoon.

Trump said Tuesday afternoon that he is eager for the House to pass the issue onto the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate, where he believes he will be treated more fairly. He described the House’s inquiry as a “hoax” and accused Democratic leaders of lying about his actions in order to justify charges.

Whenever the House takes its final impeachment vote, a few Democrats are expected to vote “no” with Republicans, although none of Georgia’s five Democratic representatives have said they will.

Even if there are a handful of defections, impeachment is likely to prevail in the Democratic-controlled House. That sets up a trial in the Senate in January, where Kelly Loeffler’s first official vote as a U.S. senator could be on whether Trump should be removed from office.

Loeffler, who was appointed to the seat by Gov. Brian Kemp two weeks ago, said she will not support punishing the president.

“This impeachment sham is an attack on what was a free and fair election, and I will stand strongly against impeachment and vote no,” she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday.

Trump’s impeachment is likely to resonate throughout the 2020 election season for members of both parties.

Georgia’s entire congressional delegation — two senators and 14 House members — is up for election in 2020. Loeffler will run in a special election to determine who will complete the remaining two years of retiring U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term. In addition to Democratic challengers, Collins has also floated the idea of running against her as a more conservative option for voters.

McBath is considered the most vulnerable member of the Georgia delegation. Last year, she narrowly defeated the incumbent, Karen Handel, and the two appear set for a rematch in 2020.

Handel’s team sent out a statement Tuesday calling McBath out of step with most voters in the suburban Atlanta district on impeachment.

“McBath is finally showing the voters who she really is — a partisan liberal who is bought and paid for by Bloomberg, Hollywood, and Pelosi,” it said. “Her allegiance is to them and not to the people of GA6 or the Constitution. Her vote for impeachment undermines the will of the people.”

Read more | Georgia law professors sign letter encouraging Congress to impeach President Trump

Also | Loeffler vows to fight ‘impeachment sham’ in Senate

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