WASHINGTON — A day after he voted to impeach President Donald Trump, Michigan freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer said he is buying body armor, changing his daily routines and taking other security measures in response to threats.
"We are living in unstable times. There are 10 of us (Republicans) who voted for impeachment, and that puts a target on our backs both literally and figuratively," Meijer told The Detroit News.
"It's something that I'm very mindful of. We're trying to downplay this, but there's escalating rhetoric. At the same time, where I come down is we need to press for accountability before we can truly heal these divisions."
Meijer, an Iraq War veteran and former Army officer, noted he never wore body armor when he worked in Afghanistan as a safety adviser to humanitarian aid organizations because bad actors might have thought there was a reason to shoot him.
Despite the threats, Meijer of Grand Rapids Township has "absolutely" no regrets about his decision to vote yes Wednesday on the article of impeachment charging Trump with "incitement of insurrection" for his part in stoking the violent mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol. The Democratic-led U.S. House voted 232-197 for impeachment, and the charge is set to go to the U.S. Senate next week.
"A commonly accepted definition of terrorism is attempts to achieve political objectives through violence," Meijer said. "At at the end of the day, if you make decisions because you're fearful of the consequences, not because it's the right thing to do for the country or in line with an oath of office, that's just a very sad place to get to."
In his first 11 days as a congressman, Meijer, 32, was faced with two potentially career-ending votes — on impeachment and last week voting down objections to disputed Electoral College results to confirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory.
"This may have been an active of political suicide, but I know that I can look myself in the mirror because I voted my conscience here," he said.
Meijer hopes his early votes send the message that he's not trying to take positions that will benefit him politically.
"If anything, both this and the Electoral College votes were probably the dumbest moves I could have made if I wanted to ensure a smooth reelection," Meijer said. "I came out here to serve my country, to uphold my oath of office and that will be my focus — regardless of the cost or of the consequences to me personally or politically."