WASHINGTON ― On Wednesday night, Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) called for a moment of silence on the floor of the House of Representatives to honor the 63 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump in 2016.
Generally speaking, such moments are offered out of respect for people who have died. So on Thursday, Johnson said it actually wasn’t a moment of silence.
“It was a moment of reflection,” he said, so that lawmakers could “stop and think about the 63 million Americans that this impeachment sham would seek to silence.”
Johnson’s request was one of more than a dozen Republican invocations of “the 63 million” Trump voters before the House voted to impeach the president on Wednesday evening. Over and over, Republicans said Democrats were attacking not just the president, but everyone who voted for him.
“They’re telling the American people that 233 Democrats deserve to decide who the president of the United States should be and disenfranchise 63 million voters,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said.
“They don’t just hate Donald Trump,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said. “They hate the 63 million Americans who voted for this president ― the forgotten men and women of this country who have been left behind.”
More than 138 million Americans voted in the 2016 presidential election, and 65 million voted for Trump’s opponent ― almost 3 million more than voted for Trump. What are Republicans trying to say about them?
“I would say the vast majority of those people respect the result but clearly there’s some who don’t respect the result,” Scalise told HuffPost on Thursday. “And that’s an insult to all the people who show up and participate in the democratic process.”
Meadows said the 63 million figure resonates with some other numbers that Republicans like. “I think that number was used based on the polling for support for impeachment and not support for impeachment,” he said. “It almost mirrors the percentages of those who voted for Hillary and those who voted for Donald Trump.”
In 2016, 48% of voters voted for Hillary Clinton, while 45% voted for Trump. HuffPost/YouGov’s polling since October suggests support for impeachment is between 44% and 48%, with opposition ranging from 39% to 43%.
When his turn came to speak on the House floor on Wednesday, Johnson called on members “to rise and observe a moment of silent reflection” for Trump’s voters. Johnson and about a dozen of his Republican colleagues then rose from their seats and stood, their heads bowed, for about 25 seconds. Silently.
Johnson stressed to HuffPost that it was a moment of reflection. “I didn’t offer a moment of silence,” he said.