Acquittal of Former President Donald Trump

On February 13th, 2021, the second impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump concluded in an acquittal after a vote from the Senate. In this vote, fifty-seven senators voted that Trump was guilty of inciting a crowd of his supporters to attack the Capitol on January 6th, and forty-three senators voted to acquit him. These totals represent a schism in the Republican party that was caused by Trump’s actions, as seven of the senators who voted to impeach Trump were Republicans. This number also means it was the most bipartisan impeachment in United States history. However, despite this effort from the Democratic party and some members of the GOP leading to the vote for impeachment being the majority, the decision failed to gain the two-thirds majority that would lead to the impeachment being carried out. 

 

It is possible that if the attack on the Capitol occurred earlier in the administration, more Republicans would have been willing to vote against Trump. Notably, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was a longtime supporter of Trump before the events of the 6th, said that there was “No question about it. The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president. And having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth,” according to The Washington Post. However, he believed that the senate did not have the constitutional right to impeach Trump since he is no longer holding office.

 

The verdict comes with anger from left-leaning politicians, who were hoping to prevent the former president from running again in 2024 through a conviction. Because of the acquittal, he could still run for president in the next election, and he still has a grip on the Republican party that could possibly allow him to pull that off. A poll run by NBC News among registered voters that was released on January 17th and took place following the Capitol attack found that while only forty-three percent of voters nationwide approved of Trump, that figure jumped to eighty-seven percent among republicans. They also found that “nearly a third of GOP voters surveyed—28 percent—said Trump's words and actions related to the violence at the Capitol reinforced their vote for Trump. Just 5 percent said they now regretted their support for him, and two-thirds —66 percent—said their feelings had not changed.”  

 

Authorities beyond the impeachment trial looking into things such as Trump’s involvement in the January 6th riot and his business practices prior to the presidency would likely hinder his ability to run again, but whether or not you agree with his politics, this trial and its outcomes could have long-term consequences on American politics as a whole.

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