The Second Impeachment Trial Of President Donald J. Trump

Barely a week has passed since Republicans voted to acquit Donald J. Trump after his historic second impeachment — and on the somewhat flimsy basis that you couldn’t impeach or convict a former president, which, of course, you absolutely can — and already there is a massive Wikipedia page devoted to sifting through every small detail of the case. Why was Trump impeached a second time?

For months, he lied to constituents by claiming he had won the 2020 election and that Biden only claimed victory because of millions of illegal votes. Of course, he had said he would do exactly this before Election Day even occurred.

It was still surprising to some people when Trump’s frenzied followers marched on the Washington D.C. Capitol with clear intention to harm senators or even the vice president. Trump showed little remorse, and reports actually suggest he was happy to see his followers out in force. This has led to friction between him and the former vice president but, more importantly, it also led to a whirlwind impeachment.

Theoretically, the trial could have occurred before Trump left office, but Republican Senator Mitch McConnell nixed plans to call the Senate back from recess — and then famously voted to acquit based on the conditions he himself had created.

Interestingly, McConnell still had something to say: “President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office as an ordinary citizen. There’s no question — none — that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it. The people that stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president… He didn’t get away with anything yet. Yet.”

Trump was asked to testify, but refused. The letter to the president also pointed out that presidents and former presidents had testified before — including Bill Clinton — and that there are no laws on the books to prevent this. Trump’s lawyers called the request a “public relations stunt.”

Five people ultimately died during the Capitol insurrection, including one police officer who was assaulted with a fire extinguisher, one rioter who was shot trying to reach the building, another who allegedly died of a heart attack after accidentally tazing himself in the testicles, and two more police officers who committed suicide following the day’s events. Trump might still be culpable for all of this, but Republicans still decided to acquit him of abusing his power while in office — which, legally, he’s been doing the entire time, potentially breaking dozens if not hundreds of laws.

Ultimately, 48 Democrats, two Independents, and seven Republicans voted to convict the former president. 43 Republicans voted not guilty. This was the expected outcome, but much of the country still watched in horror that someone so blatantly guilty of the outlined crimes could get away with them.

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