No, the required number of of Senators, 67, did not find you guilty, Mr. Trump, of inciting the riot at our Capitol building and attempting to subvert the peaceful transition of power to the new administration. A total of seven Republican Senators joined the 50 Democratic Senators who all voted to convict. So once again, thanks to partisan “loyalty,” you have been found “not guilty” of another Impeachment article. You are the only U.S. president to ever have been impeached twice, and you managed to garner majority “guilty” votes for both indictments in just over one year. But it takes a two-thirds Senate majority to convict you.
Some GOP Senators looked at this most recent impeachment trial as yet another targeted, partisan witch hunt. Some Senators hid behind the “Constitutionality” issue: you can’t impeach a person no longer in office. Some of these Senators used the various procedural excuses presented by Trump’s defense team: First Amendment, Due Process, etc. But I believe the 43 Republican Senators actually refused to convict former President Trump out of fear; fear of losing a primary election, fear of loss of fundraising, fear of a scathing Trumpian media campaign, fear of loss of Trump voters in the next election. That’s a lot to be afraid of.
But Mitch McConnell’s “not guilty” vote was even more contrived. He would need 25 GOP Senators to join him in his conviction of Trump if he were to retain his leadership power. He didn’t count that many, only seven. If McConnell voted with those seven, he would have lost his dominance and his leadership position in the party. He is currently the number one Republican in the country. That would be a lot to give up.
So once again, it’s all about political power, sadly. Even the pathetic nature of Trump’s defense team’s case did not matter. Trump knew he had enough “not guilty” votes. I had two moments of hope during the trial: the first when the House managers brought forth the evidence of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s phone call with then President Trump. McCarthy begged Trump to stop the riot, to order in more help. Trump replied, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people (the rioters) are more upset about the election than you are,” an obvious admission that the rioters were under his influence. And my second glimmer: for just a moment, before McConnell voted, I hoped he would start a tide of “guilty” votes for the rest of the count, but no. He voted his own self-interest, not his conscience.
It may be, as McConnell suggested later, that the Justice Department will charge Donald Trump with some crimes related to the Capitol riot. Trump certainly will face some election fraud charges in several states. Yet a convicted felon can still run for president of the United States. Perhaps he will lose his influence over the GOP, and that venerable party can return to its principled, conservative stance of old. But the best outcome? Trump losing his rights to FaceBook and Twitter is indeed a blessing as the country moves on from Jan. 6, 2021.
My husband suggested a brilliant tactic that presiding Senator Patrick Leahy could have employed. After he announced the count, 57 guilty to 43 not guilty, Leahy should have rejected it and asked for a recount: “This election was rigged. Come on, I just need 10 more votes, do a recount. Let someone who wants to find 10 more votes do the counting. Give me a break.” But Leahy is a principled American legislator.
I was saddened by the final outcome of this Impeachment trial. But I was much more impacted by President Trump’s election in 2016. A pall descended upon the nation at that time and people of good will hoped and prayed that Trump would grow into the office and become a responsible President. He did not. And we have suffered the consequences for four long years. We’ve survived it. Let’s hope Trump’s time is past.