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'I Will Not Be Whipped In Line': Minnesota Democrat Collin Peterson Votes 'No' On Impeachment

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- For only the third time in history, the President of the United States has been impeached.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

President Trump joins a small, inglorious list of impeached presidents: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.

READ MORE: Reality Check: How Much Do Voters Really Care About Impeachment?

The historic impeachment sparked a ferocious debate on the House floor. Democrats brought two impeachment charges, saying President Trump abused his power by withholding military aid to Ukraine unless it investigated his political rival Joe Biden -- and then he covered it up.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opened debate next to a poster with words from the Pledge of Allegiance: "And to the Republic for which it stands."

After the vote, she said the president gave Democrats no choice.

"I view this day, this vote as something we did to honor the vision of our founders, to establish a republic," she said. "The sacrifice of the men and women in uniform and the sacrifice of our democracy, and the aspirations of our children that they will always live in a democracy."

Republicans fiercely defended the president, saying he broke no laws and committed no crimes.

"He's president today," said Republican Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy. "He'll be president tomorrow, and he will be president when this impeachment is over."

In Minnesota, Democrats Angie Craig, Betty McCollum, Ilhan Omar and Dean Phillips have been sharply critical of the president, and they voted "yes" on impeachment.

Minnesota Republicans Tom Emmer, Jim Hagedorn and Pete Stauber have all criticized the impeachment process, and they voted "no."

But Democrat Collin Peterson broke with his party. He has represented Minnesota's sprawling western 7th District since 1991. It is a District that is overwhelmingly Republican. Candidate Donald Trump carried the 7th by more than 30 points in 2016. Rep. Peterson won re-election by 4 percentage points that year. The Congressman spoke about impeachment earlier this week.

"We have people who have decided to impeach him, and now they spent a year trying to figure out how they can make a case for it. That is just backwards," Peterson said.

He released this statement Wednesday night after the president was impeached:

Throughout my career, I have worked from the guiding belief that only through bipartisan action can we address the country's most pressing challenges. At the beginning of the impeachment debate we were told that it would only move ahead with bipartisan support in the Congress and significant support from the American people.

After the Russia investigation, Mueller Report and official impeachment investigation by the House Intelligence and the House Judiciary Committees we became more polarized and had less consensus.  How can it be that after all the testimony, every Democrat thinks the president has committed an impeachable offense and every Republican thinks he has not?

I'm not a lawyer and am not sure what "high crimes and misdemeanors" are, but I do know that this process has not convinced the people in my district we have impeachable offenses and that the president needs to be removed. I disagreed with how the Russia probe and Mueller report were handled and think it set the stage for the failed impeachment inquiry. The inquiry and hearing have been partisan and have failed in convincing the country while further placating some people who have wanted the president impeached since he was elected.  

This process has been a mistake and I will not be whipped in line by my party.  I may stand alone but I stand in good conscience.  History will show this to be a mistake and the Senate will make short work of an acquittal.

Democrat Ilhan Omar told WCCO she believes Trump engaged in "extortion" and "bribery," and that her "yes" vote is a check and balance.

"And to make sure we fulfill the promise of our oath," Omar said. "We believe this president has been lawless, and it is an opportunity to make sure we do our work in Congress."

READ MORE: 'It Matters A Lot': Hundreds Gather At Minnesota Capitol For Pro-Impeachment Rally

At a campaign rally in Michigan, a defiant President Trump railed against the impeachment he said he does not deserve.

"By the way, by the way, by the way. It doesn't really feel like we're being impeached," President Trump said. "The country is doing better than ever before. We did nothing wrong, we did nothing wrong and we have tremendous support in the Republican Party like we've never had before. Nobody has ever had this kind of support."

Even though President Trump has been impeached, he has not been removed from office. That's up to the Republican Senate, which will now hold a trial to convict him or vote to acquit.

And it's possible Trump will be the first president to be impeached -- and run for re-election.

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