Rep. Elvira María Salazar poses for a picture outside her office in the Capitol,Jan. 12, 2021. Salazar started her term late after COVID-19 required her to isolate and was not present when a pro-Trump mob stormed the building Jan. 6. She voted against an article of impeachment. (Salazar office via Twitter)
Recovered from COVID-19 and casting her first votes this week, new U.S. Rep. María Elvira Salazar voted against a historic second impeachment of President Donald Trump on Wednesday. Salazar had kept her intentions close to the vest, only putting out a statement Tuesday that “the entire world is watching us right now,” adding that “we must reflect on this moment in history and strive for change.”
An email to Salazar’s office asking about her decision to vote against the impeachment was not returned. Salazar’s social media feeds have focused on her swearing-in. Salazar was not present during the assault on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob Jan. 6 as she was in Miami recupertating from a case of Coronavirus that required hospitalization for a heart arrhythmia.
Salazar, a former television journalist, was strangely silent as to her reasoning. But one of her fellow freshman Republican congressional representatives from Miami, Rep. Carlos Gimenez, the former mayor of Miami-Dade County and a former county commissioner for Key Biscayne, was blunt. In a statement, Gimenez said the impeachment action was a “flawed process” that would create a “dangerous precedent without a committee investigation.” He called it a “political stunt.”
What happens next with the impeachment is unclear. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued a statement saying the impeachment article will be taken up at “the first regular meeting following receipt of the article from the House.” It’s not certain when the House will transmit the article. One option would be to wait until President-elect Joe Biden is sworn-in on Jan. 20, finish key cabinet appointments, and take up the impeachment long after Trump leaves office and under rules that would be determined by the new Democratic majority, once Georgia Senators Jon Ossof and Raphael Warnock are seated. If convicted, the Constitution provides that the Senate could impose a lifetime ban on Trump holding any future federal office.
No U.S. president has ever been convicted after impeachment by the House. A conviction requires a two-thirds vote, but the ban on holding future federal office is a majority vote.
Salazar defeated incumbent Democrat Donna Shalala in the November election. In Key Biscayne, Salazar carried the island, 52-47. But island voters preferred Biden over Trump by an identical margin, 52-47.
Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.