- 1 “The lack of conviction for Trump sends a terrifying message”
- 2 “We had a show trial”
- 3 “An act of anger and vengeance instead of sober reflection.”
- 4 “Impeachment will almost inevitably lead to a backlash”
- 5 “Trump was not exonerated”
- 6 “Congress must pass laws immediately to uphold accountability.”
- 7 “Impeachment has the chance to remain seldom and in principle”
- 8 “He exposed the fragility of the norms that underlie our political life.”
- 9 “This acquittal sends three dangerous messages to future presidents”
- 10 “Trump’s discharge will inevitably encourage those and their people who stormed the Capitol”
- 11 “The fact that these impeachments took place is of vital importance”
- 12 “Trump still owns the GOP”
- 13 “Every senator who voted for acquittal is tainted in history”
“The lack of conviction for Trump sends a terrifying message”
Keisha N. Blain is Associate Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh, 2020-21 Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University, and author of Set the world on fire and Until I’m free.
The failure to condemn former President Donald Trump is unfortunate but not surprising. In fact, it shows that violence and white supremacy will continue to shape American politics – just as they have since the nation was founded. The January 6 invasion of the Capitol is linked to a long history of white violence and terror. Throughout the nation’s history, whites have often used violence and intimidation to maintain power – the list is long and includes white militias in south Antebellum, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan after the Civil War, and the Wilmington massacre in 1898 The uprising January 6th is just the latest iteration of the violence of the white supremacists, disguised under the guise of “political dissent”. The presence of racist symbols such as the Confederate flag and the noose underscores this point.
The Senate’s failure to hold Trump accountable – and with it its failure to prevent him from running again for office – will have permanent, dire consequences. The lack of conviction for Trump sends a terrifying message: Future presidents will not be responsible for inciting violence during and after an election. That outcome has now set a new and dangerous precedent, and aspiring Republican presidential candidates are likely to try to follow in Trump’s footsteps.
“We had a show trial”
Josh Blackman is Professor of Constitutional Law at the South Texas College of Law in Houston and the author of An Introduction to Constitutional Law: 100 Supreme Court Cases Everyone Should Know.
The impeachment played no part in history. We had a show trial that was little more than political theater.
This procedure could definitely have resulted in Donald Trump sparking a riot. And I think evidence may have shown a conviction was warranted – especially regarding the official actions Trump took before and after the January 6 speech on the same day as the Capitol uprising.
But that impeachment was hastened, which ultimately rendered it ineffective. The house approved a single impeachment notice a week after the incursion with no evidence available. The House has not held hearings, accepted affidavits, summoned former administrators, or solicited official documents. Rush was understandable at the time. The House insisted that Trump posed an existential threat and he had to be removed immediately. But when January 20th passed, that existential threat disappeared.
Maybe Trump is looking for a future office in two or four years. Until then, however, it was not necessary to endure a week-long hearing without a fact-finding or by mistake. After January 6th, the house could have spent some time gathering testimonials, documents, and other evidence to create a case. But the house decided against it. Instead, it sent its managers to test Trump with newspaper clippings, surveillance footage, presidential tweets and parler posts.
No wonder the managers couldn’t prove that Trump was trying to spark a riot. They didn’t have any actual evidence to prove Trump’s state of mind. When managers tried to introduce a used report of Trump’s intentions based on a conversation with Utah Senator Mike Lee, Lee claimed it was inaccurate – and managers ultimately had to withdraw the evidence. Still, the property managers could have called witnesses to set a record during the Senate trial and even threatened to do so on Saturday. But they didn’t.
It seems that the focus now will be on President Biden’s agenda. So be it. Priorities are important.
“An act of anger and vengeance instead of sober reflection.”
Ken Blackwell is a Senior Fellow on Human Rights and Constitutional Governance with the Family Research Council. He has served as Mayor of Cincinnati, State Secretary and Treasurer of Ohio, and Undersecretary of State for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
This impeachment is important, but not as many people would think. First, impeachment proceedings are damaged when an impeachment trial is conducted with no due process, no witnesses, no hearings, and no evidence of the alleged crime – incitement that would include direct incitement to physical violence by Donald Trump.
Second, it marks a new low in American politics, an act of anger and vengeance rather than sober consideration.
Third, it shows how deeply cynical the hypocrisy has become, with the Democrats cheering and laughing along with a much more violent language President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Fourth, it shows that the culture of cancellation is infecting even our constitutional framework. Finally, the headline is “Trump Acquitted” – which means that while Democrats hate Donald Trump, they have not committed a criminal offense.
“Impeachment will almost inevitably lead to a backlash”
Douglas E. Schoen is a democratic pollster and strategist. He is the author of The Political Solution: Changing the Game of American Democracy from Roots to the White House.
Donald Trump’s second impeachment can lead to a number of unintended adverse consequences. Though Trump deserves to be held accountable for his behavior and speech on Jan. 6th– and I support impeachment – the Democrats’ political ramifications could hurt democratic opportunities in 2022 and likely have other long-term consequences.
First, we can expect the impeachment process to further polarize an already divided electorate. To that end, voters are relatively divided on whether or not Trump should be convicted. A Quinnipiac University survey The study published last week found that 50 percent of Americans said the Senate should condemn Trump, while 45 percent said they should be acquitted. Of course, the first half is always difficult for a presidential administration for the incumbent party. An initial impeachment and impeachment process will therefore make it more difficult rather than less difficult for Democrats to bring Republican voters to justice in 2022, and it will certainly make bipartisan legislative collaboration more difficult for years to come.
In the long term, the impeachment will almost inevitably lead to a backlash that will last long after the process is over. In turn, the process will bolster Trump’s standing with his already loyal base and further alienate those voters from the political mainstream as a number of more moderate Republicans have expressed support for the process. In addition, this second impeachment can also create a greater likelihood of Republicans using impeachment against Democratic presidents in the long run, making it a more general tool and less an exceptional option for expressing political opposition.
“Trump was not exonerated”
Allan J. Lichtman is a history professor and author of The impeachment case.
The second impeachment trial against Donald Trump targets three different audiences: the Senators, the American people, and the new Attorney General Merrick Garland. The first audience was never the most important. The impeachment executives realized that most Republican senators, no matter how powerful and persuasive their case was, had a closed mind and would prioritize party and personal political advantage over loyalty to the country. It is noteworthy, however, that for the first time in history a bipartisan majority of both parties voted in favor of the conviction of an American president, even if the number of votes did not match the two-thirds required for conviction. Trump was not exonerated.
The managers presented themselves to the American people. If Trump appears diminished in the eyes of most Americans, as it seems certain, his political career is over in practice, even if it is not officially anchored in law. A poll conducted on the eve of the trial found that 53 percent of respondents disapproved of Trump’s idea of running again, compared to just 37 percent who said they would support it. Trump also has a lot to do until 2024. Fuel its business, brand, and regulatory ratings. He has over $ 400 million in loans due and is facing an IRS review. He lost his Twitter account. He is under criminal investigation by prosecutors in New York and Georgia. He is facing civil suits, including one from journalist E. Jean Carroll, who claims Trump raped her in the 1990s and that she has DNA evidence.
Trump’s attorney Bruce Castor amazingly suggested that the remedy for Trump’s alleged incitement is not impeachment but prosecution. “After he resigns, arrest him,” Castor said. “There is no way the President of the United States could run away rampant and get away scot-free at the end of his term in January.” Garland will have a consistent decision ahead of him whether to accept Castor’s challenge and charge the former president with incitement or possible conspiracy charges. He must carefully weigh the strength of a potential criminal case against the distraction and turmoil that would result from indicting a former president.
“Congress must pass laws immediately to uphold accountability.”
Kimberly Wehle is Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore School of Law.
The Democrats had no choice but to proceed with the impeachment in order to properly convict and hold the leaders accountable for the horrors of January 6th. It would have been much, much worse to go away as if nothing had happened. There is no question, however, that the six references to impeachment in the constitution – an integer that underscores the importance of the authors’ view of this lever of accountability – will have no real ramifications without a voting population demanding adherence to the rule of law be by its legislators. For this we need civic education and moral responsibility at all levels of our social order.
We also need new laws. These two failed impeachments showed that Congress must pass clarifying laws immediately to strengthen accountability for the office of president. Trump has smashed a number of norms in the past four years with the complicity of Congress. America dodged a bullet into the heart of democracy on November 4th and again on January 6th, but we are far from out of the woods. We are already seeing nationwide efforts to suppress voters over the false myth that electoral fraud justifies the passage of laws by politicians to prevent people from exercising their constitutional right to vote. That’s Trump’s sad legacy, and it’s the regular American – not Washington politicians – who pays the price with the right to self-government.
“Impeachment has the chance to remain seldom and in principle”
Mary Frances Berry is Professor of American Social Thought, History, and African Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
Donald Trump’s two impeachments show what appears to be an ongoing battle between Congress and the executive. The House was unable to legislate to stop Trump’s policies and used his impeachment powers to obstruct administration. The impeachment replaced the measures taken by Congress and helped media coverage undermine Trump’s initiatives.
Trump’s second impeachment is important not only because we may no longer be able to focus on Trump. It is also unlikely that any other president will be charged after resigning and can no longer undermine government and politics, which the impeachment rules have prevented. Impeachment then has the chance to remain seldom and in principle when it appears absolutely necessary to remove a president or other official from power, and not just some other political exercise.
“He exposed the fragility of the norms that underlie our political life.”
Geoffrey Kabaservice is the director of political studies at the Niskanen Center in Washington, DC and author of Rule and Ruin: The Fall of Temperance and the Destruction of the Republican Party.
Donald Trump’s second impeachment appears to have had little practical impact in the short term, as no more than a handful of Senate Republicans voted for a conviction. Trump’s supporters are likely to dismiss the entire process as a partisan circus and witch hunt. But the case that Trump actually incited and inflamed the mob he assembled, and that he bears primary responsibility for the desecration of American democracy that took place on Jan. 6, has a far greater moral and emotional response than any of that Excuses from his defenders. Over time, the reputation of Trump’s second impeachment will deepen his expulsion from mainstream American politics. He will not be involved in any symbolic, content or redemptive activities that previous ex-presidents (even Richard Nixon) have participated in. More and more Americans will view his entire presidency as a historical deviation.
That will be an overly flattering verdict. Trump may not know much about American history, but he authentically channeled many of the country’s darker impulses into his populism. This included not only the McCarthyists’ conspiratorial hatred of the elites and the isolationism and nativism of the America First Committee, but also the anti-government animus of the Shays and Whiskey rebellions of the 18th century. It revealed the fragility of the norms that underlie our political life (most of which stem from the worldview of the long-dead gentlemanly elite) and the rickety of our antiquated constitutional-political structures. It also accelerated the decline of the country’s international power and reputation. The significance of Trump’s second impeachment will ultimately depend on the future development of the country and whether we collectively choose the division and dysfunction that embodied Trump or the pragmatism and progress that characterized much of what was once called the American century .
“This acquittal sends three dangerous messages to future presidents”
Catherine J. Ross is Professor of Law and Fred C. Stevenson Research Professor at George Washington University Law School. She is also the author of the upcoming A right to lie? Presidents, other liars, and the first change expected in 2021.
This acquittal sends at least three dangerous messages to future presidents. First, with impunity, you can use any weapon in tireless efforts to reverse the results of a free and fair election. Some of these weapons are more legitimate, like recounts and legal proceedings, than others, like pressure on state officials, ignoring 62 casualties in court, and seeking intervention by government officials. The acquittal also shows that a president can instigate a violent, armed mob to overtake and search the Capitol in order to cut the unaccountable constitutional voting certificate. And third, it is almost impossible today to imagine a presidential misdemeanor that would lead to Senate conviction.
The Supreme Court stated in Nixon v. Fitzgerald This congressional oversight, supported by the “threat of impeachment”, is the only means the constitution provides for “preventing abuse of office by the president.” In keeping with the aftermath of Watergate – where Republican leaders had pushed President Richard Nixon’s resignation – the judges, like the founders, did not envision the bipartisanism that has undermined the impeachment process. For all practical purposes, the majority of Republican Senators have violated the impeachment, conviction, and deportation mechanism and completely unbalanced our government of equal branches. Disabling the failsafe agent that the founders left us is putting the country at serious risk.
“Trump’s discharge will inevitably encourage those and their people who stormed the Capitol”
Alan I. Baron is a former special advisor to the US House of Representatives.
Donald Trump was not convicted of his unprecedented second impeachment, but he was also not exonerated. The shameless behavior of this grotesque narcissist is an indelible part of our country’s history today. This is no small feat by the House impeachment managers who have done an excellent job of presenting the facts.
A second outcome of this trial was that everyone at all times saw the cowardly abdication by Republican senators who voted “not guilty” when asked to assess Trump’s role in the insurrection. For them, it was a cynical rejection of their oath to hide behind an absurd interpretation of the Constitution that a former president could not be charged, which constitutional scholars have rejected. If Diogenes were to find an honest person in this group with his lamp, the oil would be used up before he succeeded.
Ultimately, Trump’s discharge will inevitably encourage those and their people who stormed the Capitol. You are the tip of the spear. It remains to be seen whether American democracy will get the shaft.
“The fact that these impeachments took place is of vital importance”
Beth Myers is a principal at Buckminster Strategies, a public affairs and campaigning consultancy. She was chief of staff to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and campaign manager and senior advisor to Romney’s presidential campaigns.
The first impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump were about corrupting an election. the second about trying to thwart the peaceful transfer of power after an election. The fact that these impeachments took place is vital: alleged crimes by a president in contravention of the most basic acts necessary for a functioning American democracy can never be ignored. Poet Amanda Gorman brought this home in her Inauguration Day 2021 poem: “History has its eyes on us.”
The Senate failed to convict in either trial, despite the overwhelming evidence presented by the House impeachment managers in the second trial. But Trump’s actions, the cases brought up by his prosecutors and defense lawyers, and the sworn votes cast by senators to convict or acquit are now a record for future historians to scrutinize. And that is very important.
“Trump still owns the GOP”
Rick Wilson is a Republican political strategist, media advisor, and author of Everything Trump touches dies: a Republican strategist becomes real about the worst president ever.
Donald J. Trump’s impeachment, Part 2, ended with discharge from a cowardly Senate GOP. Trump still owns the GOP and even the party members who believe he will never run again. A Senate official told me, “If this were a secret ballot, it would be 80-20,” and they were right. Does it matter to Trump or the GOP? Of course not.
It’s important to the story. It shows that the country lacks a functioning political party to hold its own against a man who has tried to undermine an election through violence. It’s a sad coda for a dark era.
“Every senator who voted for acquittal is tainted in history”
Norman Ornstein is a retired scientist at the American Enterprise Institute.
Ten House Republicans, including a party leader, voted for the indictment, and this impeachment trial will be the most bipartisan in American history. It is an extremely important step, including in acquittal. This impeachment and trial depicts the grossest and most serious abuse of power by a president in all of American history. And the process by which the property managers methodically and powerfully lay out the long story of Donald Trump lying about the elections, cheering violently, inciting proud boys and others, targeting his own vice president and trying to be the result of free and fair work to undermine choice will be part of the story. These examples were there for tens of millions of Americans to see what happened and to realize that we were within the eyelashes of a violent coup that could easily have resulted in the assassination of our top national leaders.
Trump is tainted in history even when acquitted. And any senator who votes for acquittal will be tainted in history too. And other vehicles, including applying the 14th Amendment to ban Trump from future office and criticism, will remain. Just like criminal charges. Failure to move this process forward would have been a breach of duty by Congress.