Trump Acquitted in Second Impeachment Trial

Peter Sloniewsky, Staff Writer

In a historic vote on February 13th, former President Trump was acquitted by the Senate on the charge of inciting an insurrection. In the most bipartisan vote for removal in United States history, the Senate Democrats were still unable to achieve the two-thirds majority required, with the vote split 57-43.  

The trial lasted from the 4th to the 9th of February, beginning with arguments over the constitutionality of removing a former president.  The Trump legal team argued that the idea of removing a former president was only an act of Democratic political maneuvering and unconstitutional. The Democratic camp argued that, while his term technically ran out, Trump is being tried by the Senate for potential crimes committed while in office, and was impeached during his term.

The House impeachment managers concluded their presentation with a video showcasing never-before-seen footage of the January 6 riot at the Capitol, mixed with shots of Trump’s speech, which allegedly incited the rioters. The video visibly impacted some senators, but ultimately did not sway the votes to a two-thirds majority. 

All but seven Republican Senators voted to acquit, based on the argument that the trial was unconstitutional. Trump’s counsel utilized less than four hours of their time, focusing again on the unconstitutionality argument. The result of the trial was expected, but does raise important questions about the future of the Republican Party.

The Republican Party was split across a spectrum as a result of the trial. While Trump said that the trial was “yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country,” and still enjoys the support of most of the Republican Party, the other side of the GOP supported removal as a last-ditch effort to distance themselves from the former President.  

The next few years will be defined by a battle for the soul of the Republican Party. Several prominent Republicans have voiced different perspectives. Minority Leader McConnell, who, despite his vote to acquit, affirmed the impeachment managers’ case in a speech criticized as hypocritical. McConnell claimed that Trump was, “practically and morally responsible,” for provoking the violence. In contrast, Maryland GOP Governor Hogan said, “It’s not easy to go against your party and the base of your party and the former President… it’s hard to do the right thing sometimes.”