There was no suspense about the outcome of Thursday’s House vote on whether to endorse the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. The result followed party lines. Democrats, but for two, approved. All Republicans opposed.
Still, the result should trigger irritation and dismay for many North Carolinians as their representatives overwhelmingly supported giving the president a pass. That is not a fair representation of the state. It is yet another demonstration of how illegally gerrymandered districts have distorted the will and skewed the image of North Carolina.
A Meredith poll published on Oct. 14 showed that 90 percent of North Carolinians surveyed were familiar with allegations that the president abused his powers in an attempt to gain political dirt on a potential Democratic challenger to his reelection. The poll found that 48 percent of state residents favor an impeachment inquiry while 41 percent do not. The House vote by North Carolina’s representatives showed the opposite — 10 opposed, three in favor.
It’s significant that the vote was not about impeaching the president. It was about whether the evidence supports looking further into whether his actions merit impeachment. The evidence is strong that Trump tried to use the leverage of withholding $391 million in military aid to get Ukraine to announce an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
This evidence wasn’t brought forth by Democratic politicians or their staff. It was brought forth by members of the U.S. Foreign Service, the CIA and the military. And yet Republicans are treating it as a partisan fight. Not only do they think Trump’s offenses are not impeachable, they don’t even want to know more about what he did to invite foreign involvement in a U.S. election and put an ally at risk.
“Every member should support the American people hearing the facts for themselves,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor. “That is what this vote is about. It’s about the truth. And what is at stake in all of this is nothing less than our democracy.”
House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy dismissed that appeal. Instead he said Democrats have launched the inquiry “because they are scared they cannot defeat (Trump) at the ballot box.”
McCarthy has it backward. Republicans have opposed the inquiry because they are scared that questioning the president will trigger a primary against them. That concern is especially acute in North Carolina, where extremely gerrymandered districts make Republicans’ congressional seats safe — and going against the president dangerous.
The Meredith poll shows that if North Carolina’s Republican members represented their state instead of blindly falling in step behind the president, there would be no hazard in seeking the truth about Trump’s actions. The poll revealed that Trump’s approval rating among all North Carolina voters is at 39.9 percent, down from 44 percent in March. Those who reflexively shield the president are abandoning their responsibility to serve their state and the Constitution.
Now comes the public portion of the inquiry. By all indications the testimony will expose a president who abused his office and staff members who tried to cover up his actions. These North Carolina Republican representatives voted that they would rather not hear about it: Mark Meadows, Dan Bishop, Ted Budd, Virginia Foxx, George Holding, Richard Hudson, Patrick McHenry, Gregg Murphy, David Rouzer and Mark Walker.
These frightened followers have taken their safe place in the Republican herd. It also will be their place in history.