October 25, 2021

Breaking down the conditions of Trump’s acquittal

Former President Donald J. Trump was recently acquitted by the Senate, but let’s talk about the conditions surrounding it.

Earlier this year, Trump became the first president to be impeached more than once. The House of Representatives decided to impeach Trump for a second time after the Jan. 6 insurrection on the US Capitol, where the lives of both rioters and law enforcement was lost; an event that they blame Trump for. 

Trump was fighting an uphill battle after his entire legal team quit with less than two weeks before the trial was set to begin. Many reported that this was because Trump urged his attorneys to put up the defense that the 2020 election was stolen. 

Trump’s defense team did not get off to a good start as even Republican senators were willing to admit that the House managers, who were in charge of presenting the case of impeachment, had a much better argument than Trump’s defense team. 

When it came time for the Senate to cast their votes, the conviction fell short by ten votes. The trial ended with 57 Senators voting to convict and 43 voting to acquit the 45th President. 

All 50 Democrats voted to convict, but they were joined by Republican Richard Burr (R-NC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Mitt Romeny (R-UT). 

Following the Senate’s vote to acquit Donald Trump, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he did indeed believe that Donald Trump was guilty of inciting the insurrection. 

This statement made his vote to acquit seem contradictory. McConnell stated that he did not believe the Senate could impeach Trump because he is the former president, not the current one. 

Other GOP senators, including Ohio Junior Senator Rob Portman, joined McConnell in saying that they voted to acquit Trump because he is no longer President and not because he was not guilty. 

While Trump may have not been convicted, as McConnell pointed out, it is not necessarily over for Trump’s problems. It is possible that Trump could face similar criminal charges. 

The impeachment trial also highlighted the divide in the Republican party. Not only did seven Republicans vote to convict the former President, but many others expressed that though he is guilty, it is not the place of the Senate to convict a private-citizen. This divide could haunt the GOP in 2022 and even more so in 2024. 

Trump released a statement following his acquittal. He thanked his supporters and his defense team. He again called the impeachment a “witch hunt” and told his supporters that their movement is not over. 

While Trump has yet to elaborate on what that means, some have speculated that Trump will run again in 2024. After a decent amount of the party has said he is guilty of inciting an insurrection, it would be interesting to see how the GOP would react to a Trump 2024 campaign. Many have speculated that Trump will depart the Repubican party and create a third party. 

Whatever it is that the former President decides to do, he can now do it without worrying about impeachment. However, other lawsuits are likely to follow.

  • J.J. is a Junior Political Science major and a Political Correspondent for The Chimes. J.J. served in the Capital University Student Government and has helped on different political campaigns. You can email him at jprice3@capital.edu.

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