Dem lawmaker defends 2017 Trump electoral objection as 'protest vote' under pressure from Jordan

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House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern on Wednesday defended his 2017 objection to President Trump’s electoral votes from Alabama as a “protest” as he sparred with GOP Rep. Jim Jordan during House debate the parameters for debating the latest article of impeachment against Trump. 

Jordan, R-Ohio, a staunch Trump ally, began the war of words by attacking McGovern, D-Mass., in his floor comments. 

“In his opening remarks, the Democrat chair of the Rules Committee said that Republicans last week voted to overturn the results of an election. Guess who the first objector was on Jan. 6, 2017?” Jordan said. “First objector, the Democrat chair of the Rules Committee. And guess what state he objected to? Alabama, the very first state called.”

Jordan continued: “They can object to Alabama in 2017, but tell us we can’t object to Pennsylvania in 2021? Pennslyvania, where the state Supreme Court just unilaterally extended the election to Friday? Pennsylvania, where the secretary of state unilaterally changed the rules, went around the legislature in an unconstitutional fashion?”

House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass., presides over a markup of the resolution that will formalize the next steps in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019. McGovern got into a war of words with Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, a Republican, while the House debated the parameters for considering the impeachment article against Trump on Wednesday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Jordan also noted that Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., in 2017 lodged an Electoral College objection as well. Raskin is one of the Democrat impeachment managers named this week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Raskin’s objection was that 10 of Florida’s electors held other offices in the state, allegedly violating state law. Neither Raskin’s nor McGovern’s objections went anywhere because they were not backed by a senator. 

“Americans are tired of the double standard,” Jordan added. “They are so tired of it. Democrats objected to more states in 2017 than Republicans did last week. But somehow we’re wrong.”

Jordan also said Democrats were being hypocritical by raising bail for “rioters and looters all summer. But somehow when Republicans condemn all the violence — the violence this week, the violence last summer — somehow, we’re wrong.”

McGovern responded by saying Democrats’ objections were a “protest” over Russian interference in the 2016 election. 

“Some of us objected four years ago as a protest vote to raise concerns about what all of our intelligence agencies had stated clearly, that Russia interfered in our election,” McGovern said. “But what the gentleman fails to acknowledge is that we all acknowledged that Donald Trump was the president of the day after the election.”

McGovern continued: “Hillary Clinton conceded the day of the election and none of us pushed conspiracy theories like some of my friends on the other side of the aisle have been doing — and this president — that somehow the president won in a landslide. Give me a break.”

McGovern also slammed Jordan for being unwilling to admit that the election was not corrupt. 

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, testifies to the House Rules Committee as the panel considers a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to activate the 25th Amendment to declare President Donald Trump incapable of executing the duties of his office, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. Jordan accused Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., of hypocrisy for objecting to the electoral votes for President Trump from Alabama in 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“Yesterday … I asked the gentleman from Ohio if he would say five simple words … that you could say that would help heal this nation” McGovern said. “That the election was not stolen. That’s it. Five simple words. He refused. … Five pesky little words keep stumping Jim Jordan.”

McGovern went on to blame Jordan and Trump for the fact the Capitol was stormed, saying that “people died because of the big lies.” McGovern also panned “whataboutism” and “false equivalency” from Republicans.  

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., also came after Jordan earlier in the debate. He noted Jordan’s presence on the floor and said that he does not consider Jordan a “friend” like some other Republicans. He pointed out “the gentleman from Ohio” as someone specifically “whose values I do not share.” 

“Like the president of the United States, he denies the facts,” Hoyer said. “Trump-like, fake news.” 

The floor debate early Wednesday is “rule” debate, meaning it is on the parameters governing the actual impeachment debate later Wednesday. There will be two procedural votes likely around midday before two hours of actual impeachment debate then a vote likely around 3 p.m. The impeachment is likely to pass. 

The Senate could begin its impeachment trial of the president as early as this week but it is not likely to start the proceedings until after President-elect Biden is inaugurated. An impeachment trial can still happen in the Senate after Trump is out of office. 

President Donald Trump turns to reporters as he exits the White House to walk toward Marine One on the South Lawn on January 12, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump later Wednesday is likely to become the only president ever to be impeached twice. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The impeachment effort by Democrats — which is backed by some Republicans as well, most notably Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who is the third highest ranking Republican in the House — comes after what was essentially a breaking point for lawmakers’ tolerance of the president last week. 

Trump spent the two months after the presidential election pushing false claims that he won the contest over President-elect Biden, then riled up a crowd in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, as lawmakers and Vice President Pence were meeting to certify the election results. 

The mob of Trump supporters then marched through the city and stormed the seat of the American government, forcing hundreds of lawmakers and Trump’s longtime loyal lieutenant, Pence, to go into hiding. “Hang Mike Pence,” some chanted. 

Trump, according to even many of his allies, did not do enough to quell the mob he stoked. He was widely condemned by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. And even many in the GOP that do not support impeachment have indicated that they are open to backing a censure resolution. This includes House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. 

The president later Wednesday is likely to become the first president ever be impeached twice after the House votes on the article of impeachment. 

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