The verdict is in. The Senate impeachment trial of former president Trump ended with a vote of 57 for conviction, ten less than the required two-thirds supermajority.
Or, as Trump would say, “Total exoneration – the greatest landslide victory ever.” Alternatively, as one anonymous internet commenter stated: “Republicans 43, Americans 57.”
While we now have a respite from the four years of unmitigated horror of the Trump administration, the Senate’s failure to convict Trump leaves open the possibility that he might run again in 2024. And who knows, the voters elected Trump once and perhaps they may do so again.
The Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, voted against conviction on the narrow grounds that Trump was no longer president and thus no longer subject to impeachment. Constitutional law is not my expertise so I’ll leave it to others to sort out if he’s correct.
But the irony is that when the U.S. House of Representatives impeached Trump, McConnell was still the Majority Leader and refused to accept transmittal of the impeachment article until after Trump’s term expired.
That said, in his post-trial remarks, McConnell made some salient points. Here are some excerpts (Mitch McConnell: Read the Senate minority leader’s remarks following Trump’s acquittal - CNNPolitics):
“January 6th was a disgrace.”
“American citizens attacked their own government. They used terrorism to try to stop a specific piece of democratic business they did not like.”
“They did this because they had been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth — because he was angry he’d lost an election.”
“Former President Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty.”
“There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day.”
“The issue is not only the President’s intemperate language on January 6th.
“It was also the entire manufactured atmosphere of looming catastrophe; the increasingly wild myths about a reverse landslide election that was being stolen in some secret coup by our now-President.”
“The leader of the free world cannot spend weeks thundering that shadowy forces are stealing our country and then feign surprise when people believe him and do reckless things.”
“This was an intensifying crescendo of conspiracy theories, orchestrated by an outgoing president who seemed determined to either overturn the voters’ decision or else torch our institutions on the way out.”
“The unconscionable behavior did not end when the violence began.”
“Whatever our ex-President claims he thought might happen that day ... whatever reaction he says he meant to produce ... by that afternoon, he was watching the same live television as the rest of the world.”
“It was obvious that only President Trump could end this.”
“Former aides publicly begged him to do so.”
“But the President did not act swiftly. He did not do his job.”
“Instead, according to public reports, he watched television happily as the chaos unfolded. He kept pressing his scheme to overturn the election!”
These are McConnell’s words. Couldn’t have said it better myself.