The acquittal of former President Donald Trump’s comes as a reminder of his continuing hold over the Republican Party, and with the results Saturday setting a dangerous precedent, CNN reported. With enough senators to back him, even an autocratic leader who had violated his oath of office could escape punishment, was the troubling message the affair sent, according to commentators.
His legal team put up a feeble defense that skirted the real issues and highlighted the fundamental power imbalance that formed part of Trump’s legacy in Washington. In his four years in office, he made the founders’ insistence on co-equal branches of government look like a farce, commentators said.
Donald Trump’s Acquitted An Indication Of His Continued Hold Over Republicans
However, Trump would be seen as a disgraced figure who managed to escape conviction on technical grounds following a trial that showed that with his acts, he jeopardized the lives of lawmakers in both parties, his own vice president and dozens of police officers as he sought to overturn the election results.
Seven Republicans joined the 50 Democrats who voted to convict him, but the numbers still fell short of the 67 needed. However, that was still six more senators than in the 2020 vote. In January, his impeachment had been supported by ten House Republicans, including Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler. Beutler had been prepared to testify against Trump when managers said Saturday they’d call for witnesses after new details of a heated phone call between Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy during the insurrection were revealed by CNN on Friday night.
The voluminous video evidence, presented at the trial, had left many Republican senators shocked. It showed how the former President had spun falsehoods about the November election to mislead his followers for months, which spurred them to the point where they stormed the Capitol in mobs on January 6. In the mob violence that ensued, several police officers were beaten as the mobs claimed they were carrying out Trump’s instructions to stop the electoral votes’ certification.
But, unlike his first impeachment trial, no GOP senators could be seen rushing to defend him on Saturday when he could claim vindication.
Fearful of the electoral consequences of going against the former President, many senators who voted for his acquittal chose the more convenient procedural argument of lack of authority as Trump had already left office. However, the vast majority of constitutional scholars were not in agreement with it, and the Senate had also voted that the trial was constitutional last week.
In his statement following the vote, Trump, as usual, played the victim and claimed that the trial was yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country, and no president had ever gone through anything like it.
Maryland GOP Gov. Larry Hogan, who had not been afraid to call out the former President, said Sunday he was proud of the Republicans who voted against Trump. He said he would have done the same.
He told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that it was not easy to go against one’s party and the base of one’s party and the former President, and it was hard to do the right thing sometimes.
He added he thought the final chapter of Donald Trump and where the Republican party would go had not been written yet, and he thought there would be a real battle for its soul over the next couple of years.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in an attempt to take over control from Trump, even as polls showed Trump still enjoyed the support of a majority of Republicans, essentially endorsed the House impeachment managers’ case Saturday in a speech. The Kentucky Republican had, however, voted to acquit Trump.