As T.S. Eliot said, not with a bang, but with a whimper. The second impeachment trial in the Senate of former President Donald J. Trump failed to pass. The final vote was 57 to 43. 67 votes would have been required to remove Trump from an office he no longer occupies. More importantly, it closes the door on a simple majority vote to bar him from ever seeking office again. (For now, anyway.) It’s somewhat surprising that the Democrats managed to get that many Republicans to go along with them, but Donald Trump now stands as the first President to not only be impeached twice, but to beat the rap in the Senate the same number of times. (NBC News)
The Senate on Saturday voted to acquit former President Donald Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection largely along party lines, bringing an end to the fourth impeachment trial in U.S. history and the second for Trump.
Only seven Republicans voted to convict Trump for allegedly inciting the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, when a mob of pro-Trump supporters tried to disrupt the electoral vote count formalizing Joe Biden’s election win before a joint session of Congress. The final vote was 57 to 43, far short of the 67 votes needed to secure a conviction.
Republican Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania all voted guilty.
There’s not much more to say beyond what Ed Morrissey was covering all day. None of this should come as a surprise. In the end, Trump’s lawyers made the case that has been stated all along. The President was being charged (in a political process, not a legal one) with thought crimes. Or, if you prefer, “speech crimes.”
And even the “speech crimes” angle is dubious at best. As was shown during the trial, many elected officials from both parties have used words like “fight” and all the rest in a rhetorical fashion. To say that he alone was the person who incited the attack on the Capitol Building on January 6th was to imply that he actively encouraged the mob to attack.
Is it possible that the President could have mitigated the damage if he had gone out on social media and told everyone to “stand down” from the riot, as one reported call with Mitch McConnell suggests he was asked to do? Certainly. It’s possible. Though I somehow doubt the QAnon Shaman would have listened since he seemed to be enjoying the mayhem so much.
The attack was a disgrace, as I’ve written repeatedly. But the denouncements from Democrats in the Senate ring hollow. Take this comment from House manager Joe Neguse of Colorado.
“The stakes could not be higher. Because the cold, hard truth is that what happened on January 6 can happen again. I fear, like many of you do, that the violence we saw on that terrible day may be just the beginning.”
Oddly enough, I agree with Neguse. The disaster of January 6th absolutely could happen again. But only if people choose to break the law and then suffer the consequences for it, as is already happening with the rioters. I don’t know how else to put this other than the way I’ve been doing for the past year. Donald Trump wasn’t the cause of everything we’re seeing out in the streets. He was a symptom. If we want to prevent another incident of violent unrest such as what we saw on January 6th, we have to address the underlying cause of the problems involved. And anyone correctly blaming the mob that attacked the Capitol Building last month for the mayhem we witnessed will not win over many converts if they continue to ignore the rest of the riots and destruction we’ve been witnessing over the past couple of years. Plenty of elected officials have either ignored or actively encouraged all of the violence.
If you want some “unity” now that Donald Trump is out of office, we should probably start by agreeing that no street mayhem and violence is acceptable. We simply can’t assign blame to the side we disagree with politically.