Trump’s Second Acquittal: The Senate's Failure to Deliver Justice to the American People, Again
Despite the controversial views of Donald Trump, the former president both tragically and ironically made history as the President of the United States by becoming the only president to ever get impeached twice. Unfortunately, Trump also became the only president to get acquitted in an impeachment trial twice.
Article II, Section IV of the Constitution reads, “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of treason, bribery, or other higher crimes and misdemeanors.” This power serves as a check and balance for the executive branch by the legislative branch.
On December 18, 2019, Trump was impeached for “an abuse of power and obstruction of Congress by the House.” This resulted from Trump threatening and bribing the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, by withholding military aid from Ukraine and encouraging him to dig up dirt on current President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who previously worked for a Ukrainian energy company.
The House's judiciary committee said that Trump had "betrayed the nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections." But, unsurprisingly (especially with the Republican Senate Majority) he was acquitted on February 5, 2020, with only one Republican senator voting to convict him: Mitt Romney.
Despite his efforts to attempt to corrupt the United States’ democratic elections, Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, on November 7, 2020, to President Joseph R. Biden. Trump, however, refused to admit defeat. The former president spent his last days in
the White House tweeting false claims of victory, imploring his large amount of followers to take back the election.
On January 6, his incitement materialized into violence against the police and US Senators in the Capitol who were gathered to certify the electoral votes of the recent election of Joe Biden. On the day of this attack the former president tweeted regularly, conveying a similar message in a number of ways:
12:34 am: Trump called for the Republican party to fight: “Get smart Republicans. FIGHT!”
1:00 am: Trump continued to tweet about voter fraud and encouraged former Vice President Mike Pence to veto the certification of the electoral votes.
12:15 pm: Trump told his supporters at the “Save America Rally” to march on DC, saying that they must “never take back [their] country with weakness."
1:15 pm: Trump encouraged his supporters to fight for their country: “We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
2:24 pm: He called out former Vice President Mike Pence for playing a role in the certification of President Joe Biden: “Mike Pence did not have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution.”
2:38 pm: Trump finally expressed his support for the Capitol Police: “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful."
4:17 pm: Trump released a video claiming that the election was stolen from him and sympathized with his supporters. He closed the one-minute video by telling them, “We love you, you’re very special [....] we know how you feel.”
6:01 pm: Trump justified the riot by calling it “an event that happens when a sacred election victory is so unceremoniously and viciously stripped away from great patriots.” Soon after, Twitter suspended Trump’s account for 12 hours and then banned his account permanently.
On January 13, Donald Trump was impeached once again. And on February 9, his second impeachment trial began in the Senate. This time, he was tried for inciting the violent riots against our nation’s Capitol. Unfortunately, he was acquitted later that week on February 13. 57 Senators (including 7 GOP Senators) pronounced Trump ‘guilty’ and 43 Senators pronounced him ‘not guilty.’
Although the majority of the Senate voted to impeach the former president, a two-thirds majority was needed to convict Trump. Many of the Republicans who decided not to convict Trump stood by him because they did not view the impeachment of a former president as constitutional.
Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump spent his presidency referring to the Republican Party as a party of “Law and Order” while calling Black Lives Matter protestors “thugs and criminals.” Yet on January 6, he incited violence when he refused to accept his loss. He believed that he could somehow overturn the results of the election through the use of false claims and intimidation.
Donald Trump threatened our democracy on January 6 when he told his supporters to storm the building that held the electoral votes that proved Joe Biden’s claim to the presidency and Trump’s loss. This crime went unpunished by our nation’s leaders because 43 Senators decided that a president should not be convicted of their crimes if they no longer held that position of power, even though such a claim is not written anywhere in the Constitution.
In a country that punishes men and women for crimes they may or may not have committed, no matter how far in the past, it is unjust that the person who represented and led our country was not held accountable for their actions like their fellow citizens.
We as the American people were failed and shown that dirty politics can lead to unfair advantages and exceptional treatment being given to the one American that should have been held the most accountable. Though our leaders followed a constitutional process in this impeachment, they failed to deliver justice to the American citizens who were traumatized and betrayed during the riot at the Capitol.