Story updated at 4:19 p.m. on Dec. 10 with new information.
NASHVILLE — Congress members from the tri-state area split along partisan lines Tuesday after U.S. House Democratic leaders unveiled two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
The lower chamber's historic step comes after Judiciary Committee hearings and it moves the Democratic-led House closer toward a floor vote. But the Republican-led Senate is seen as unlikely to convict Trump on charges he corrupted the U.S. election process and endangered national security in his dealings with Ukraine.
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., denounced Democrats' action as both a "witch hunt" and "political theater."
"No one is surprised that House Democrats have announced another step in their pre-ordained decision to take down @POTUS at any cost with their articles of impeachment," the Ooltewah congressman tweeted. "After all, the American people know this has been the Democrats' goal since President Trump was elected."
Fleischmann went on to say that for "Democrats to assert that @realDonaldTrump abused his power, when in actuality they are abusing the power of their majority by wasting taxpayer dollars and time with this witch-hunt, is an ironic twist in this political theater."
But U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, a Nashville Democrat, said he will vote in favor of the articles.
"Once again, the President has intentionally harmed America, this time by disregarding the law and interfering with U.S. aid to fight our enemy — Russia — against tanks that are invading Ukraine, already causing 13,000 casualties. When caught, the President obstructed justice by ordering others to hide the truth," reads Cooper's statement.
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., was among Trump's GOP defenders. He charged "House Democrats ran secret impeachment hearings. Called partisan donors to testify. Refused to call others who would contradict their hoax. Refused to wait out court reviews. Now impeaching the President for 'obstruction of Congress.' They turned this entire process into a joke!"
Alabama U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, a Democrat, tweeted that the "President has abused his power and betrayed his oath to the American people."
And in Georgia, Republican Congressman Doug Collins, a member of the Judiciary Committee, where he was a staunch defender of the president, charged in a tweet that "We're watching the political #impeachment that our founders warned about in real time: Democrats are concerned more about the clock and calendar than facts or fairness."
Also weighing in was a Democratic Judiciary Committee member, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, of Memphis and an advocate of Trump's impeachment since 2017: "The eagle has landed. Same song, different verse. Most impeachable President ever! #ImpeachAndRemoveTrump," Cohen tweeted.
With Democrats in control of the House Judiciary Committee and the House, the articles of impeachment are expected to win approval in committee and later on the House floor.
Then it goes to the GOP-led Senate.
U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., told reporters in a conference call Tuesday that Democrats have rushed the process.
"They have an incomplete record when it comes to the Senate," she said.
"We will take it up, we will set the rules. And we will decide how we move forward and then make a decision when we have a vote of consideration," said Blackburn, a staunch Trump defender and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee where the articles of impeachment will first go after the House approves them.
Blackburn recently made national news after sharply criticizing Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a decorated Army official and a key figure in the House committee impeachment proceedings. Vindman was among White House staff listening in on a July telephone call in which Trump pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate the son of one of his chief political rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden.
The senator charged in a tweet that "Vindictive Vindman is the 'whistleblower's' handler."
Twitter critics struck back with a "#MoscowMarsha" hashtag.
"There are things said about me on Twitter each and every day," Blackburn said. "The comments I made about his testimony were things that were called in question."
She said several days later "there was an article in the Wall Street Journal with some of those same questions that I had had. I think that's what we want to do is make certain as you have testimony that you receive testimony, that the testimony is accurate, that it is fair.
"Impeachment is a process that is reserved for the greatest of needs," Blackburn said.
When reached for comment Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said: "If the House impeaches the president, the Senate would in effect be the jury. There would be many twists and turns between now and a Senate trial. Therefore, as a potential juror, I will have nothing more to say about impeachment until all the evidence is presented and all the arguments are made."
Contact Andy Sher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-255-0550. Follow him on Twitter @AndySher1.