Local reps split on impeachment


The House of Representatives voted on Wednesday, Dec. 18 to impeach President Donald J. Trump over allegations that the President pressured Ukraine to investigate political rivals while withholding aid to the country. Wednesday’s vote marked only the third time in American history a sitting president has been impeached.

Both charges against Trump, one count of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, were approved along party lines with most Democrats voting in favor and all Republicans voting against.  

Both of Gonzales County’s house representatives remained in step with their respective parties, as Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) voted for the articles of impeachment and Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Victoria) voted against both. Vela’s district spans the southern half of the county and includes the cities of Nixon and Smiley, while Cloud represents the northern half including the cities of Gonzales and Waelder. 

A clerical error briefly made it appear that Cloud voted in favor of the first article of impeachment. Though the mistake was quickly fixed, the vote tally appeared on television and briefly caused the phrase “1 Republican” to trend on Twitter, as no other Republican had at the time or would at all vote to impeach.

Cloud did not address the gaffe in his statement to the media but did lambast the investigation as “having neither bipartisan support nor the basic norms of due process and fairness.”

“Despite unfair and, even at times, secret hearings, the investigation uncovered no evidence that the president committed impeachable offenses,” Cloud said. “Instead of legislating and working on behalf of the American people, we’ve seen a single-party effort in Congress to remove a sitting president. Even Speaker Pelosi acknowledged that the impeachment effort began two and a half years ago, long before the president’s July 25 phone call.”

Vela said he based his decision to impeach on what he called Trump’s undermining of democracy.

“One of the primary roles of the President of the United States is to lead by example, especially when it comes to promoting democracy around the world. Ukraine is a strategic ally, and the country’s geographic proximity to Russia makes Ukraine an important partner in the international effort to contain Russian aggression. Ukraine’s democratic story is recent but historic, and it is essential to our national security interests in Eastern Europe,” Vela said. “President Trump’s attempt to extort Ukraine, by withholding funds intended to protect that country’s national security, in an effort to thwart his political opposition in this country is an abuse of the power of the Presidency. The President of the United States is responsible for promoting democracy around the world, not undermining it. For that reason, I will join my colleagues in voting for his impeachment.”

The Senate will have final say on whether or not Trump is removed from office. A two-thirds Senate majority is required to remove the President and the Republican Party currently holds a 53 to 45 majority in the Senate. There are also two independent Senators that caucus with the Democrats. Neither of the impeached presidents, Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, were removed from office.