Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
It was a historic day in Congress, but not one to celebrate, said Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández, D-N.M.
“Having to vote on impeachment as my third significant vote of my tenure in Congress was incredibly sad,” she said in an interview with the Journal shortly after she voted to impeach President Donald Trump. “The whole ordeal evokes both anger and sadness.”
In a bipartisan effort that included 10 Republicans, Trump was impeached Wednesday for the second time. This time, he was charged with “high crimes and misdemeanors by inciting violence against the government of the United States.”
The charge is for his role in encouraging the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol building last week in an effort to disrupt the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Five deaths were attributed to the violence.
The overall tally was 232 in favor of impeachment and 197 against it. New Mexico’s three members of Congress were split along party lines, voting 2-1 to impeach.
Leger Fernández and Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., voted to impeach Trump, and Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-N.M., voted against the effort.
Herrell, in a speech on the House floor Wednesday, denounced the violence that occurred at the Capitol last week but said she didn’t support taking action against Trump.
Last week, Herrell was one of dozens of Republican lawmakers who objected to the Electoral College vote in several states, which is what many of the pro-Trump extremists were demanding when they stormed the U.S. Capitol building. But Herrell has defended her objection, saying she wanted to draw attention to voting practices in several states.
On Wednesday, she voted against impeachment saying on the House floor, “I don’t believe, Madam Speaker, that the American people have an appetite for this.”
While Herrell and other Republicans said the effort will only further divide the country, Leger Fernández said the step is necessary.
“Healing and unity begin with accountability,” she said. “We have to say that this will never be accepted, trying to overturn and interfere with a peaceful transition of power. … Then we can begin to do the work that our constituents sent us here to do.”
Haaland voted to impeach Trump on Wednesday but couldn’t be reached for comment.
The House vote has set up an impeachment trial in the Senate, though it’s not likely to take place before Trump leaves office Jan. 20.
The article of impeachment adopted by the House seeks Trump’s immediate removal from office and “disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.”
New Mexico’s senators said in statements that they were ready to try the case.
“Now that President Trump has been impeached by a bipartisan vote in the House, the Senate has a duty to the Constitution and to the American people to act quickly to take up these charges,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. “This man is a clear and present danger to our republic. He is not fit to serve as our president for one minute longer or to hold public office ever again.”
Sen. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., said he will vote to remove Trump.
“The Senate now has the constitutional duty to act, and I will stand up for our republic, defend our democracy, and vote for removal,” he said.