By Annisa Essack
Saturday, the Senate acquitted former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, voting that Trump was not guilty of inciting the deadly January 6 riot at the US Capitol. The final vote was short of the 67 guilty votes needed to convict, 57 guilty to 43 not guilty. The verdict, a bipartisan rebuke of the former President with seven Republicans finding him guilty.
The biggest surprise was former Senate, Intelligence Committee chairman who led the Senate’s Russia investigation, Richard Burr of North Carolina. Earlier in the week, Burr voted that the trial was unconstitutional, but he decided to put that aside after the Senate voted on Tuesday that the trial was constitutional and should proceed. Burr explained in a statement, “As I said on January 6th, the President bears responsibility for these tragic events.
The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government and that the charge rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanours. Therefore, I have voted to convict.”
Other Republicans who voted to convict were Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, and Romney. The vote underscored the obvious dilemma posed by Trump to most congressional Republicans in the aftermath of the January 6 riots. Most of the Republican senators are impatient to move on from the former President, but they are still wrestling with the reality that Trump still holds sway over the Republican base.
As the party heads into the 2022 midterm elections, it will face a two-way split as it seeks to regain control of Congress and the 2024 GOP presidential primary. For many Republican senators, siding with the constitutionality argument in their votes to acquit, allowed them to avoid casting judgement based on Trump’s conduct.
Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, put forth a searing criticism of Trump’s actions after the vote, but he voted to acquit as he believed convicting an ex-president was constitutional. The lead impeachment manager welcomed the vote. Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland said that it was the most bipartisan impeachment in history.
Hours after the Senate vote, President Joe Biden, noted the bipartisan nature of the vote and commented that whilst the final vote did not lead to a conviction, the substance of the charge was not in dispute. Biden further added that even those that opposed the conviction believed Donald Trump was guilty of a ‘disgraceful dereliction of duty’ and ‘practically and morally responsible for provoking’ the violence unleashed on the Capitol.”
After the vote, Trump’s attorney Michael van der Veen, however, said the former President was “vindicated” by Saturday’s vote to acquit him. “He had a good day in court today. He was vindicated. He was found not guilty.” The political witch hunt that they had, that the Democrats had thrown at him was defeated, so he should feel quite pleased.”
Trump’s second impeachment acquittal has managed to unearth uncomfortable truths about American politics and his ineradicable place in it. The most glaring of which is the U.S. Constitution’s impeachment provisions revealed themselves to be inutile. The potential long-lasting implication is that Trump could run for office again, and it has highlighted the country’s constitutional guardrails as feeble at a time of mounting threats to democracy. Democrat Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s most powerful figure expressed his fear of the acquittal setting a precedent with bleak implications for the future.
Republican Mitch McConnell, also ripped into Trump, saying the former president could yet face criminal and civil threats. The seven Republicans voting to convict a president of their party set a record and speaks volumes about how impeachment has worked.
According to Joseph Ellis, a presidential historian who participates in academic surveys ranking presidents says the likelihood of Trump being ranked last increased with his record-setting second impeachment.
The legal system is the second source of potential trouble for Trump. Several prosecutors in different states have publicly revealed that they have opened criminal investigations related to him.
The cases include tax and insurance fraud investigations reportedly underway in New York; in Georgia, prosecutors are launching a criminal investigation into the ex-president’s attempt to pressure state officials to overturn the 2020 election result; accusations of mortgage fraud; and as described in the Mueller report. Several incidents of potential obstruction of justice. On the tax, the mortgage fraud and the matter in Georgia are deemed serious as he is on tape.
Regarding what happened on January 6, it has already seen different processes launched in Congress with others to follow, including further probing into the attack and the Trump administrations response to it.
And finally, the sting of electoral rejection that Trump has already been subjected to.
Settled into his Mar-A-Lago mansion, Donald John Trump will continue to argue that he was robbed of the election, but it will not change his status of “defeated president.”
Nothing will erase the verdict rendered by 81 268 924 people who did what Republican senators could not do to him.