Several hundred people gathered in downtown Missoula on Tuesday night to call for the impeachment and removal of President Donald Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors listed in a recent congressional report.
Mixed within the crowd also stood several dozen Trump supporters, who called Wednesday’s pending impeachment vote in the U.S. House little more than a sham.
“We came down here to support our president, and that’s why we’re here,” said Trump supporter Doug Woodahl. “It’s the biggest bunch of bullshit I’ve ever seen. Right after he got elected they started trying to impeach him. Are you kidding me? What’s the Ukraine thing got to do with anything?”
Woodahl stood in the minority as the crowd closed in on Front Street chanting slogans for Trump’s removal. No one is above the law, they shouted, waving flags and banners in a show of patriotism.
In a terse six-page letter, Trump told House Democrats that “history would judge you harshly.” On the streets of Missoula, at least, history had judged Trump equally harsh.
“I would like to see him impeached and removed, because he’s acting above the law,” said Dodi Andersen. “He’s done things that make the county a pariah throughout the world. He’s beyond what they put in that a report. He’s done a whole lot of stuff.”
By the time most Americans in the West rise for the day, the House of Representatives will exercise what Speaker Nancy Pelosi deemed “one of the most solemn powers granted to us by the Constitution.”
If the House votes along party lines, as expected, Trump would become just the third U.S. President ever to be impeached. The last was impeached over what amounted to an extra-marital affair.
This time, advocates for impeachment argue, the stakes are higher.
“I don’t believe anybody is above the law,” said Ben Darrow, former chair of the Missoula Democratic Central Committee. “The president bribed another county to get dirt that didn’t exist and interfered with our elections.”
Trump is accused of trying to coerce Ukraine into dishing dirt on a political rival in exchange for military funding awarded by Congress. He also is charged with refusing to cooperate with the investigation, prohibiting staff from testifying.
Despite the charges, Trump supporters stood fast on Tuesday night.
“President Trump is the best president this county this ever had,” said Deborah Woodahl, standing alongside her husband. “He is indeed making America great again.”
But most didn’t see it that way, accusing Trump of lies and treason. Others suggested he remains a threat to Democracy and that he played a role in swaying the outcome of his own election by colluding with the Russians.
When the House convenes on Wednesday, however, Trump will only face two crimes, both listed in the official impeachment report prepared after a protracted Congressional process that played out on national television.
For some, the division stood as a greater concern.
“This whole Democrats versus Republican thing isn’t productive for our country,” said Annie Crowe. “It’s about our laws and Constitution. Everybody has to obey the laws.”
Tuesday’s impeachment-eve rally also brought Jerry McDonald in from Thompson Falls.
“I object to the mistreatment that Donald Trump is visiting upon us,” said the rancher. “I expect the House will vote to impeach the president. I’d like to see our senators (Tester and Daines) call all the appropriate fact witnesses. That’s what you do in a trial.”