Whatever his final decision, Meijer didn’t want to blindside the people back in his district. So he began making calls. The conversations did not go well. Meijer remembers one man, “a prominent business leader in Grand Rapids,” arguing that the election had been stolen, that Trump was entitled to a second term, that Meijer was a pawn of the “deep state.” The man went “full QAnon,” spouting conspiracy theories and threatening him with vague but menacing consequences if he voted to impeach. Meijer was well acquainted with that kind of talk; one of his own siblings was fully in the grip of right-wing conspiracies. Even so, the conversation “shook me to my core,” Meijer says, “because the facade had been stripped away. It showed me just how bad this had gotten.”
After Meijer hung up, he leafed through a copy of The Federalist Papers, hoping for an epiphany. He texted with friends. He talked with his wife. Finally, he consulted a list he’d compiled of like-minded members with whom he wanted to compare notes. It was a short list, and Meijer had already talked with most of them: Liz Cheney of Wyoming; Adam Kinzinger of Illinois; Fred Upton, who represented a neighboring district in Michigan. But there was one he had yet to connect with: Anthony Gonzalez, a second-term congressman from Ohio.
When Meijer reached Gonzalez on the phone, the call turned into a therapy session. Meijer kept debating with himself; meanwhile, Gonzalez, who had also been ambivalent, grew ever more adamant that Trump must be impeached. Meijer asked his colleague to explain the source of his certainty. “I can convince myself not to vote for impeachment,” Gonzalez said. “But if my son asks me in 20 years why I didn’t vote for impeachment, I couldn’t convince him.”