In the end, 10 House Republicans voted to impeach Trump, after none did so in late 2019. (One Republican who supported impeachment then, then-Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, became an independent before the vote.)
The sum of them is unprecedented. The previous high for members of a president’s own party voting to impeach came during Bill Clinton’s impeachment in the late 1990s. At the time, five House Democrats voted to impeach.
But that was a time in which conservative Democrats still roamed the halls of Congress, and four of the five had conservative voting records. Three of these members, in fact, later became Republicans, and another joined the administration of Republican George W. Bush.
By contrast, the Republicans voting to impeach Trump on Wednesday ran the gamut, from the No. 3 House Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), whose statewide district gave Trump more than 70 percent of the vote two months ago, to several members from much more closely divided districts. In between, notably, were Reps. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), Tom Rice (S.C.), Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio) and Dan Newhouse (Wash.), whose districts all went for Trump by double digits in the 2020 election. In other words, these are the kinds of members whose actions would seem to go significantly against their political calculi.
Before Clinton’s impeachment, only President Andrew Johnson had been impeached by the House, following the Civil War. He was overwhelmingly impeached, but on a party-line vote in the Republican-dominated House. He also narrowly escaped conviction in the Republican-dominated Senate, but again only because there were enough Democratic votes, and the Democrats voted in unison.
There is precedent for a bipartisan impeachment process before Clinton — albeit not one that actually led to an impeachment. Half a dozen Republicans voted in committee in favor of impeaching President Richard M. Nixon, signaling a very significant GOP defection, but he resigned before the full House could vote.
After that committee vote, former conservative GOP presidential nominee Barry Goldwater applied pressure on Nixon, which was understood to be the straw that broke the camel’s back and signaled to Nixon that his time was up.
Some likened Goldwater’s action to the moves Tuesday of Cheney and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who indicated that he might vote to convict Trump. But Trump decided to let things play out, and now he has not just the most bipartisan Senate impeachment trial vote and the most impeachments to his name, but also by far the most bipartisan House impeachment vote.