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NW Florida House Delegation Divided On Trump Impeachment

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach speaks against the bill to impeach President Trump on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021.
Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach speaks against the bill to impeach President Trump on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021.

Northwest Florida’s Congressional delegation was split along partisan lines in the House’s vote to impeach President Trump.

The bill charging the president with incitement of insurrection passed with 232 votes in the Democrat-controlled House about a week after a mob of the president’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach) and Rep. Neal Dunn (R-Panama City) voted against Trump's second impeachment. Gaetz and Dunn also challenged the certification of Biden's electoral college votes in Arizona and Pennsylvania.

"Seems to me that impeachment is an itch that doesn't go away with just one scratch," said Rep. Gaetz said while speaking against the bill on the House floor.

Before protesters stormed the Capitol, Trump re-emphasized his refusal to concede the election. "We won't give up," Trump told the crowd."We will never concede." He also encouraged them to fight to "stop the steal."

About a week later, the House voted to charge Trump with inciting an insurrection.

Democratic Rep. Al Lawson of Tallahassee voted in favor of it. Lawson told WJCT News that Trump was "a danger to America" following the riot at the Capitol building.

"Everything just unfolded so quickly," Lawson told WJCT's Melissa Ross. "It was almost incomprehensible to realize that the safest place in the world was under attack."Lawson says he and most of his staff weren't there when it happened.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which works to help get GOP candidates elected to the Senate. Scott recently told Fox News he thinks the impeachment won't help Democrats politically and goes against Biden's calls for unity following the election.

Sen. Marco Rubio told Miami News outlet NBC 6 that he thinks Trump ought to be held accountable for his words leading up to the riot at the Capitol. But Rubio said he believes impeachment will only make Trump a "martyr" and further divide the country.

Valerie Crowder hosts and produces state and local newscasts during All Things Considered. Her reporting on local government and politics has received state and regional award recognition. She has also contributed stories to NPR newscasts.