Trump Acquitted in 57-43 Vote
Olivia Allery, staff writer, and Danny Reinan, news editor
The historic second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump ended this past week with another acquittal. Trump has managed to dodge being convicted a second time, thanks to his strong support in the Senate. Although seven Republican senators voted against their party in the largest bipartisan impeachment vote in history, these extra votes were not enough to secure a conviction. The senate’s final vote was 57 guilty votes and 43 not guilty votes, falling short of the 67 vote supermajority required in order to convict.
“The defendant, President Donald John Trump, was let off on a technicality,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro, one of the Democratic representatives who served as an impeachment manager in Trump’s conviction trial, in a statement aired on MSNBC News shortly after the trial concluded. “My reaction to the decision of a majority of Republican senators not to convict Donald Trump, despite the overwhelming evidence, is not only sadness, but also apprehension for the nation. Because, as I said during my remarks, the defense council’s main argument is that there is nothing wrong with what Donald Trump did. And he could do it all over again. And as a nation, we just have to hope that that isn’t the case.”
“My reaction to the decision of a majority of Republican senators not to convict Donald Trump, despite the overwhelming evidence, is not only sadness, but also apprehension for the nation.”Rep. Joaquin Castro
The acquittal shows that, although several key Republican senators defied their party and voted against Trump, support for Trump still runs deep among Republicans. One of his most prominent supporters throughout the trial process was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who gave some remarks that were very critical of Trump after the trial, but nonetheless voted for his acquittal. “There’s no question former President Trump bears moral responsibility,” McConnell said. “His supporters stormed the Capitol because of the unhinged falsehoods he shouted into the world’s largest megaphone.”
Despite his denouncement of the misinformation Trump spread around the election results being fraudulent, he maintained that it would be unconstitutional to convict him at this time, and that Trump’s crimes should instead be weighed by the legal system. “We have no power to convict and disqualify a former officeholder who is now a private citizen,” he said in the same speech, citing Article II, Section 4 of the US Constitution. “Put another way, in the language of today: President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, as an ordinary citizen… He didn’t get away with anything yet – yet. We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being held accountable by either one.”
“President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, as an ordinary citizen… He didn’t get away with anything yet – yet.”Senator Mitch McConnell
Trump has since fired back at McConnell with his first public statement since his impeachment trial began, released by his political action committee.
“The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell,” he said. “Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again. He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our Country. Where necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First. We want brilliant, strong, thoughtful, and compassionate leadership.”
While many Republicans in the Senate cannot get over their loyalty to the former president, those who voted for a conviction may be facing problems for going against him. Republican GOP senators and House members, who voted for the conviction, are now receiving backlash from other Republicans in their home states. Many of the senators are facing severe disapproval at the state and local government level, which will pose a challenge as the 2022 midterm elections approach. These problems will also increase due to Trump’s statement backing any Republican in the midterm elections who is still a strong supporter of his.
Despite the fact that Trump was ultimately acquitted, many impeachment managers who fought for his conviction still ultimately believe that the trial was worthwhile, and will set an important precedent for holding presidents accountable.
“It’s to show that a president will be held accountable until the last second they’re in office, and we will never give a president a ‘January exception’ where you could commit crimes and then not be held accountable afterwards,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell, another impeachment manager in Trump’s conviction trial, in a statement to ABC7 News. “But also, I think the country needed to see just what our president incited among our citizens to attack our capitol. And the fact that seven Republicans broke ranks shows that this was a bipartisan – the largest bipartisan impeachment vote ever – I think that’s going to be vindicated in history.”
Rep. Joe Neguse, another impeachment manager in Trump’s conviction trial, echoed Swalwell’s positivity during his appearance on the Rachel Maddow show.
“I certainly draw hope and optimism from the fact that there were seven Republican senators who chose country over party, who did the right thing, who vindicated our constitution, who stood up for our country when they were needed the most, and I am grateful to each and every one of those senators,” said Neguse. “[They] made a courageous decision in terms of looking at the evidence in an impartial way, an objective way, considering the case that we had presented, and ultimately reaching the same conclusion that we had – that the president was guilty of the constitutional offense with which he was charged.”
Those who were hoping for Trump’s conviction can also hold onto hope because he may not be completely out of all his legal troubles just yet. The state of Georgia is opening up investigations into Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. Georgia’s secretary of investigation has announced that the state will be investigating calls made between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Reffensperger regarding election results and Trump ordering Raffensperger to “find more votes” in hopes of turning the election results. Trump also is facing a criminal investigation in New york for the Trump Organization committing potential tax fraud, insurance fraud and other schemes to defraud.
Also on the horizon, two women, E. Jean Carrol and Summer Zervos, have filed lawsuits against Trump for counts of sexual assault and rape. Trump was previously able to put off all of the lawsuits because of his protection due to the presidency. With these protections now gone, the former president will not have the same privilege and ability to put off the investigations since he is no longer in office. As McConnel stated, “He didn’t get away with anything yet – yet.”