Democrats wrestle with how to quit an acquitted Trump

“It is important that we find out what things the former president may have been involved in that really hurt our country,” said Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), Who served as impeachment manager during Trump’s first trial and wants to continue active oversight of his late administration. “We’re trying to prepare America for success.”

The debate comes as Trump remains firmly in control of the GOP base. And there is no problem that brings Democrats together faster than criticizing him. However, with the end of the second impeachment trial, Democrats admit that they have few options left to sanction Trump. Top Democrats all but ruled out a no-confidence decision against the former president on Saturday, keenly aware that it would be highly unlikely to reach 60 Senate votes after 43 GOP senators voted for acquittal had. And so far there seems to be little appetite among the Senate Democrats to consider further punishments or investigations.

Spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi specifically ruled out criticism during a press conference following the acquittal on Saturday, saying she would convict “cowardly senators” who did not vote “off the hook”.

“Criticism is a blow to the constitution,” said Pelosi. “We blame people for being stationary for the wrong purpose. We do not blame the people for instigating a riot that is killing the people in the Capitol. “

And so far there seems to be little appetite among the Senate Democrats to consider further punishments or investigations.

“We don’t put presidents in jail, ex-presidents. We just don’t do that,” said Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.). “We have never done it in the past. I don’t know why us.” would start now. “

House Democratic leaders don’t yet have a roadmap to deal with Trump after the process, according to several people familiar with the discussions. But some Democrats made their intentions clear after the vote. House Superintendent Carolyn Maloney (DN.Y.) tweeted that she “will continue to work to investigate Jan. 6 – specifically, who funded it,” but did not provide details of the investigation known.

Current legal proceedings – including efforts to obtain Trump’s financial records – will continue, according to senior Democrats. Members discussed revoking his post-president privileges and strengthening the powers of Congress to ensure that future presidents are forced to adhere to stricter rules for responding to subpoenas, divesting businesses, and failing to hire family members.

Some of these measures are already part of a comprehensive government accountability bill that the Democrats passed in the last Congress called the H.R. 1. This law is expected to have its say in March, according to a senior democratic advisor.

Senior Democrats also drafted a bill last year to address a number of the party’s abuses of power. They propose stronger subpoena powers for Congress and a suspended statute of limitations for federal crimes committed by a seated president. The bill did not get its say at the last Congress, but it could be this time if there is enough interest in the caucus.

But right now, many House Democrats are of the opinion that Trump needs to become an afterthought.

“We have to go beyond Trump as soon as possible, as fast as we can,” said Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.), Noting that he would support restoring the powers of Congress as long as it is not a distraction.

Senate Democrats, meanwhile, argue that an impeachment acquittal does not mean the exercise was worthless to hold Trump accountable. In the end, seven Republicans voted for a conviction, more than originally expected.

And Trump faces the real possibility of legal punishment even without Congress. Senate Minority Chairman Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Who voted for the acquittal, suggested to his caucus Saturday that prosecution of Trump in response to the Jan. 6 riot may be appropriate.

The state judicial authorities are also investigating Trump. Just hours before the Senate vote, it was revealed that the New York District Attorney’s Office is investigating financial details of Trump’s real estate – a reminder of the sprawling web of ongoing investigations outside of Washington. And the Georgia Attorney’s Office recently opened an investigation into Trump’s call to pressure Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to reverse his loss.

With the process complete, Congress Democrats are now working to devise a $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package – the party’s top priority. This is followed by an ambitious legislative agenda that will likely begin with infrastructure and immigration.

“I don’t think people are interested in looking backwards at Trump,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).

Still, some in the party argue that deciding whether to keep Trump paying or focus on democratic priorities is a wrong decision.

“I don’t think it’s an either-or,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (DN.Y.), chairman of the House Democrats’ campaign arm. “I don’t think it makes sense for us to be consumed.” with Donald Trump. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hold account of President Trump and his enablers, because the truth matters. “

But Democrats are also aware of a key reality: Trump will not just go away. While losing his biggest megaphone – his Twitter account – the former president plans to weigh the GOP primaries and is considering a run in 2024.

Trump’s anticipated return to politics carries further risks for the Democratic Party, which has long struggled to ignore or engage him. In mid-2018, House Democrats successfully neutralized Trump’s ability to devour the national news cycle by running a strictly scripted health care campaign and ignoring his ridicule on contentious issues.

But even after the Democrats took back the house, Trump and his Twitter feed commanded every narrative daily until the platform finally banned the former president after the January 6 uprising.

“I hope Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) Saw these shocking and clear videos of his intent that day,” he said of Trump, “that they will no longer support him.”

With Trump’s bleak election future, Democrats are under heavy pressure to implement their agenda before mid-2022 – when many lawmakers privately believe that the majority in the House of Representatives could turn around again.

Many Democrats say the agenda should include proposals to confirm the authority of Congress after years of trampling in the legislature. But they say that, too, shouldn’t be marketed as an answer to Trump.

“If there was a Democratic president who surpassed the normal traditional authorities of the presidency, the Republicans would want to restrict that too,” said MP Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.). “It’s for everyone. It’s not just a punishment.” “”

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