The most surprising vote for impeachment came from this Republican

Sunil Kumar

“Compared to the often raucous members of the state’s congressional delegation, Rice has been more low-profile and focused on his legislative work,” wrote the Almanac of American Politics of Rice, who has represented eastern South Carolina’s 7th district since 2012.

But Rice hadn’t made a mistake or accidentally pressed the wrong button. His vote to impeach was real — and without question, the most surprising of the 10 Republicans who bucked the President.

“Once the violence began, when the Capitol was under siege, when the Capitol Police were being beaten and killed, and when the Vice President and the Congress were being locked down, the President was watching and tweeted about the Vice President’s lack of courage.

“For hours while the riot continued, the President communicated only on Twitter and offered only weak requests for restraint …

“… It has been a week since so many were injured, the United States Capitol was ransacked, and six people were killed, including two police officers. Yet, the President has not addressed the nation to ask for calm. He has not visited the injured and grieving. He has not offered condolences. Yesterday in a press briefing at the border, he said his comments were ‘perfectly appropriate.'”

The combination of Trump’s incitement of the crowd, his attacks on Vice President Mike Pence during the riot itself and his total lack of remorse over his role in the overrunning of the Capitol added up to be more than Rice could take. As he concluded his statement: “I have backed this President through thick and thin for four years. I campaigned for him and voted for him twice. But this utter failure is inexcusable.”

A look back at Rice’s past comments on Trump, particularly in the wake of last week’s riots, provide some evidence that this move wasn’t entirely unexpected.

While Rice did vote in favor of the Electoral College objections raised by Republicans in Arizona and Pennsylvania, he expressed some misgivings about doing so in the wake of the Capitol violence. “I am incredibly disappointed in the President,” Rice told a local TV station last Wednesday. “The President needs to step up right now and say this election is over. I’m tired of it. He needs to concede. He needs to say that this election is over and tell these folks to calm down.”
And Rice, despite representing a comfortably Republican seat, has resisted the urgings of some in the district to throw in his lot with the House Freedom Caucus — Trump’s base within the House. “Donald Trump was backed by an overwhelming majority in my district and in South Carolina,” Rice said. “And while I don’t necessarily agree with his tactics, I agree with 95% of his policies.”
Perhaps the biggest previous indicator of Rice’s impeachment vote comes in this quote from an interview in 2017 with the Charleston Post & Courier. “People don’t pay me for smiling,” Rice said. “They pay me to get results.”

That’s not the typical quote from a politician. And as Rice showed with his vote on Wednesday, he’s no normal politician.

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