Trump Impeachment 2: This Time It’s Personal (And Here’s Why)

Trump Impeachment 2: This Time It’s Personal (And Here’s Why)

Miles Gorman, Layout Editor

Donald J. Trump is officially the first president to be impeached twice. After the events of January 6, Democrats in Congress began calling for a historical second impeachment, and on January 11, impeachment proceedings officially began. After the house officially impeached President Trump on one charge, the Senate acquitted him, falling just ten votes short of the required two-thirds majority needed to convict, making it the most bipartisan impeachment in American history. Calls from Republicans have said that impeaching a president after he has left office is unconstitutional, but the Supreme Court ruled against them, saying the impeachment could proceed. But how did we get here, and more importantly, what does it mean?

 

The Capitol riots of January 6 changed everything. Thousands of Trump supporters raided the Capitol building in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s victory. The attack was largely fueled by the former president, who held a rally beforehand and told his supporters to “walk down to the Capitol … You have to show strength, and you have to be strong… we need to fight”. The riot had been planned well in advance, with extensive plans including pipe bomb decoys and weapons rationing, and new evidence for just how much advanced planning went into the attack. Once the mob had taken hold of the capitol, the president also did not make a statement until well after the attack had turned violent, releasing a  one-minute video on Twitter. So on January 11, impeachment proceedings began. The house filed one charge against the president, which passed on the 13th. Since the Democrats control the house but the Republicans control the Senate, the Democrats did not send the articles of impeachment to the Senate until January 25, once they had the majority. Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court, who presided over the last impeachment trial, declined to preside over the second trial, so the Senate trial preparation concluded on January 26 with Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and the Senate president pro tempore (oldest senator) sworn in. The Republicans also held a vote on whether the trial was constitutional due to the president no longer being in office, but the Senate voted to continue the trial, with five Republicans crossing the aisle to side with the Democrats. After attempts in vain to get the president to testify at the trial, it officially began on February 9. Democrats made what might have been a fatal mistake by dropping their plan to call witnesses, and Trump was acquitted on the 13th.

 

This is more than just an impeachment process. It has a larger effect on American politics. Letting Trump off the hook sets a dangerous precedent of unaccountability for elected officials. The partisan lines have gone from differences in ideals to safe havens from all repercussions of their members’s actions. For a sitting president to commit sedition and not be impeached because of party lines, we can be sure that this will become more and more common. Once something happens once, you can be sure it will happen again, and we will become more and more desensitized to it. The only way to assure that our government escapes this spiral of corruption is to vote out the politicians that allow it to happen, and speak out against it at every opportunity. We have to beat our politicians at their own game.

Bibliography

Ann Marimow, Robert Barnes. “Can a Former President Be Subject to an Impeachment Trial? The Constitution Is Murky.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 28 Jan. 2021, www.washingtonpost.com/local/legal-issues/can-former-president-impeach/2021/01/27/d527979e-60d9-11eb-9430-e7c77b5b0297_story.html.

Cai, Weiyi. “A Step-by-Step Guide to the Second Impeachment of Donald J. Trump.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 8 Feb. 2021, www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/02/08/us/politics/trump-second-impeachment-timeline.html.

Gresko, Jessica. “EXPLAINER: Can Trump Be Impeached after Leaving Office?” AP NEWS, Associated Press, 19 Jan. 2021, apnews.com/article/can-trump-impeached-after-leaving-office-ae386f5cb003ea323319f60347586dec.

Naylor, Brian. “Read Trump’s Jan. 6 Speech, A Key Part Of Impeachment Trial.” NPR, NPR, 10 Feb. 2021, www.npr.org/2021/02/10/966396848/read-trumps-jan-6-speech-a-key-part-of-impeachment-trial.