There were a few Republicans Thursday who surprised observers when they voted in support of holding former Trump adviser Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress and referring him to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution.
Prior to the vote, four Republicans were considered a lock to approve the criminal referral, according to Capitol Hill sources: Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Fred Upton of Michigan and Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio.
Cheney and Kinzinger are on the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and have for months stood alone as the only two House Republicans willing to speak out against former President Donald Trump’s continued lies about the 2020 election. They were the only two House Republicans to vote for the formation of the select committee on June 30.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi formed the select committee after Republicans rejected a bipartisan commission that would have been evenly split between five Democrats and five Republicans. Only 35 Republicans voted for that measure when it passed the House of Representatives, and it was defeated by a GOP filibuster in the Senate.
Upton has served in the House for more than three decades, since 1987, and will face a primary challenge next year because of his willingness to stand up to Trump.
Gonzalez is retiring from Congress next year, after only four years in the House. "While my desire to build a fuller family life is at the heart of my decision, it is also true that the current state of our politics, especially many of the toxic dynamics inside our own party, is a significant factor in my decision," Gonzalez said in September when he announced he would not seek another term.
The remaining five Republicans included three who voted for impeachment — Peter Meijer of Michigan, John Katko of New York and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington — and two House Republicans who did not vote to impeach Trump: Nancy Mace of South Carolina and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.
Only 10 House Republicans voted to impeach Trump in January, a week after he spoke to a crowd in front of the White House on Jan. 6, and instructed them to march to the U.S. Capitol and “fight like hell.” It was the second time Trump was impeached by the House, the first time any president in American history had been impeached twice.
The three House Republicans who had voted to impeach Trump but voted against holding Bannon in contempt on Thursday were Dan Newhouse of Washington, Tom Rice of South Carolina and David Valadao of California.
There was one House Republican who did not vote at all on Thursday: Greg Pence of Indiana, the elder brother of former Vice President Mike Pence, who was hunted by insurrectionists as they stalked through the hallways of the U.S. Capitol, egged on by inflammatory tweets from Trump himself, who blamed Pence for refusing to overturn the election. Greg Pence had voted against impeachment, against the bipartisan commission to investigate Jan. 6 and against the creation of the select committee.
Mace, who represents a moderate coastal district in South Carolina, said that she had voted for holding Bannon in contempt even though she had voted against forming the select committee because it is now a “duly formed” body. “I'm going to fight for subpoena powers ... no matter who's in power, because we've got to have the opportunity and the ability to investigate,” she told a Politico reporter.
Fitzpatrick represents the Philadelphia suburbs, a moderate district, and has tried to fashion a bipartisan voting record.
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