Tensions have been high after the Donald Trump-inspired coup attempt on January 6 — and Republicans are saying, behind closed doors, that they fear that their lives are under threat if they vote for impeachment, according to several sources.
On Wednesday, Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colorado) said on MSNBC that, “I had a lot of conversations with my Republican colleagues last night, and a couple of them broke down in tears talking to me, saying that they are afraid for their lives if they vote for this impeachment.”
Though no Republican who feels this way has said so publicly, many sources have now corroborated Crow’s statement. CNN’s Jamie Gangel, Politico’s Tim Alberta and Rep. Pete Meijer (R-Michigan) have said that, though some Republicans wish to vote for impeachment, they now fear that their lives or their family’s lives would be in danger if they did so.
“Numerous House Rs have received death threats in the past week,” tweeted Alberta. “I know for a fact several members *want* to impeach” but aren’t because of their fears.
This sentiment “illustrate[s] a devastating truth,” writes Vox. “The Capitol Hill attack was, in large part, a success.” The violent attempted coup that resulted in many close encounters for members of Congress and their families was meant to send lawmakers a message, as Politico reports. Trump militants won’t accept members of Congress going against Trump’s will, according to Politico, including voting against overturning the election results or voting for impeachment.
“Not to be unsympathetic, but welcome to the club. That’s leadership,” said Crow, about the Republicans fearing for their lives. “Many of us have felt that way for a long time because we stood up for our democracy.”
Many of Crow’s fellow Democrats have received vicious death threats, some of them for years. As journalist Connie Schultz, wife to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) writes on Twitter, “I hope no one is under the impression that only Republicans are getting death threats.” Indeed, politicians from both sides of the aisle have been receiving “very specific” threats, as Conor Lamb (D-Pennsylvania) said, in recent weeks.
Members of the progressive “squad” in particular have said that they receive racist death threats regularly. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) said on Tuesday that during the right-wing attack on the Capitol she feared for her life, partially because she feared her GOP colleagues would reveal her location to the Trump mob.
Alberta wrote that Republicans’ fears over voting for impeachment are why “Republicans should have asserted themselves and held Trump accountable from Day One. Their silence in the face of his manifest abuses contributed to the formation of a cult that now threatens their lives.” Others also pointed out that lawmakers rolling over to such threats is a dangerous precedent to set.
The best way to deter violent threats is to just give in to the people making demands.
Ah yes. That’ll solve it. https://t.co/4mPHDUg2yP
— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) January 13, 2021
The House debated impeachment on Wednesday, and Crow referenced Republicans’ fears on the House floor. “Some of my Republican colleagues are afraid of the consequence of an impeachment vote but this Congress sends our men and women to war every day…. Leadership is hard. It’s time to impeach,” he said.
Other Democrats had strong words for their colleagues. “The 117th Congress must understand that we have a mandate to legislate in defense of Black lives,” said Cori Bush (D-Missouri). “The first step in that process is to root out white supremacy starting with impeaching the white supremacist-in-chief.”
A handful of House Republicans voted for impeachment on Wednesday, including the third-ranking Republican Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming). “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” she said in a statement.
The Senate is currently on recess, and Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell said that he will not agree to reconvene the Senate until the day before the inauguration. McConnell says he has not yet decided how he will vote.