Former President Donald Trump continues to make history on Saturday, not only as the first US president to be impeached twice by his political opponents, but also as the only US president whom his political opponents failed to convict twice in his Senate impeachment trials.
Democrats, and in particular Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, have been trying to impeach and convict Trump since practically his first day in office, but once again, they failed to make their case to the supermajority of 67 senators needed to convict.
The trial took a wild twist on Saturday, when the Senate voted to call witnesses, and Trump’s legal team then responded that this would mean they would be deposing at least 100 people in person, in Pennsylvania, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice-President Kamala Harris. It would also mean the impeachment trial could drag out for months, interfering with other Senate business.
Upon that realization, the Democrats walked back the vote on calling witnesses.
Ultimately, the Senate voted 57-43 to convict Trump on the single article of impeachment for “incitement of insurrection” in the January 6, 2021 riot and shocking breach of the Capitol building by a small mob of a few hundred rioters, falling short of the 67 supermajority vote needed for a conviction, as was expected.
Seven Republicans crossed party lines and voted against the former President: Senators Richard Burr (North Carolina), Bill Cassidy (Louisiana), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah), Ben Sasse (Nebraska) and Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania) voted “guilty”.
It’s important to note that GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), who was highly critical of Trump, voted “not guilty”.
Trump’s defense lawyers made a spectacular case against the impeachment during the trial simply by playing a video of the Democrats using “fighting” language and what appears to be in some cases, actual calls for violence against President Trump and their political opponents, highlighting their hypocrisy and double standards.
In addition, Trump’s lawyers showed videos of various Democrats, including Hilary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, questioning the election results, trying to cancel the certification from their states, declaring the elections were stole without bringing any proof, and even stating that the electronic voting machines can’t be trusted.
During the trial, Senator Bernie Sanders sought to corner one of Trump’s attorneys who skillfully turned the argument around and asked the Senate why they aren’t addressing the one question that the entire impeachment trial is about.
Despite the win, Trump’s trials and tribulations may not be over.
The Democrats are afraid of Trump running again for President and may continue to seek to neutralize him politically. There is talk they might try to invoke Section 3 of the 14th Amendment against him, which only requires a simple majority vote to win, something they already have in the Senate. The 14th Amendment was introduced after the Civil War to prevent Confederate leaders from running for office.
14th Amendment Section 3
No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
Some claim the Democrats’ impeachment attempts constitute abuse of the process and will only open the door to Republicans returning the favor once they’re back in power. Others claim the Democrats plan to try to use it against Republicans who voted “not guilty” though it’s unclear how that would be viewed negatively by Trump’s 74 million voters.
Trump praised the victory and his supporters, according to a Fox News report. “This has been yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country,” Trump said. “No president has ever gone through anything like it, and it continues because our opponents cannot forget the almost 75 million people, the highest number ever for a sitting president, who voted for us just a few short months ago.”