ST. PAUL — The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday, Oct. 31, voted 232-196 to approve a set of ground rules for a House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
The vote broke down on largely partisan lines with Democrats voting in support of the measure and Republicans voting against. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Rep. Jeff Van Drew, D-N.J., voted against the measure.
Peterson represents Minnesota's Congressional District 7, a broad swath of western Minnesota that narrowly re-elected the DFLer and posted a 31 percentage point vote for Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016. No House Democrat represents a district with broader support for Trump.
Minnesota Democrats Angie Craig, Dean Phillips, Betty McCollum and Ilhan Omar supported the resolution while Republican Reps. Jim Hagedorn, Tom Emmer and Pete Stauber voted against it. Reps. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., and Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., also voted against the rules for impeachment proceedings.
Peterson in a statement said the vote was "unnecessary" and he raised concerns about the way the impeachment process had been conducted. Peterson also said he wouldn't decide whether he supported impeachment until all the facts had been presented.
“This impeachment process continues to be hopelessly partisan. I have been hearing from my constituents on both sides of this matter for months, and the escalation of calls this past week just shows me how divided our country really is right now," Peterson said. "I have some serious concerns with the way the closed-door depositions were run and am skeptical that we will have a process that is open, transparent and fair. Without support from Senate Republicans, going down this path is a mistake."
In statements following the vote, Democratic lawmakers said the resolution was critical to moving forward with the inquiry into the president's efforts to call on Ukrainian leaders to investigate Democratic presidential candidates.
"Today is a vote for the rule of law, the Constitution, and the sanctity of our democracy," Omar, a Democrat representing Minnesota's 5th District, said on Twitter. "Today, we say as a House that no one is above the law. No President can threaten our national security for political gain. And no president can undermine the integrity of our elections."
Republicans, meanwhile, said the vote was an effort by Democrats to invalidate the 2016 election result and remove the president from office.
"Today, House Democrats put political games ahead of the American people," Minnesota Republican Party Chair Jennifer Carnahan said in a news release. "They chose to spend the upcoming weeks and months focused on partisan theater and baseless claims rather than working to move this country forward."
Republican U.S. senators in North Dakota and South Dakota said the impeachment inquiry broke with precedent and they urged Democrats to end the probe.
“While I may become a juror if the House continues to double down on their nonsensical impeachment crusade, I will not shirk my responsibility to call them out for their horrible handling of this process," Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said in a news release Thursday.
And the reaction from groups aiming to support Republicans and to re-elect the president was swift. They committed to run ads highlighting Democrats who voted "Yes" in Congressional districts where Trump had won in 2016.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, which aims to elect Republicans to the House, said it would run ads targeting Craig in Minnesota's 2nd District. National Republican Congressional Committee took aim at Craig and Phillips in separate statements. The pair flipped their respective districts from red to blue in 2018.
Craig said she supported the rules approved Thursday ensured equal time for Republicans and Democrats to question witnesses, as well as a public setting to continue the probe.
In a tweet, Trump called the inquiry "The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!"