Acquittal in the Senate

Senate Votes, Former President Donald J. Trump Escapes Conviction

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Morningside Center

Senate Floor where lawmakers debated whether to convict Donald Trump.

Washington, DC.–It came as no surprise when the results of the second impeachment trial came in. With the Senate basically evenly split between the parties, it was always a slim chance that enough Republicans would turn on Trump to reach a two-thirds majority.

Once a President has been impeached in the House, a trial takes place in the Senate. In order to get a conviction, 67 of the 100 senators must vote in favor of the article. After conviction, a simple majority vote (51 or more votes) would decide on whether to disqualify the individual from holding future office. In this case 67 votes would be all of the Democrats and 17 Republicans, making this a lofty goal.

Democrats showed videos and tweets of President Trump praising and encouraging violence amongst his supporters, including his response to the attempted kidnapping in Michigan. They tried to make the case that he had a trend of the type of behavior that led supporters to believe they were doing his bidding when they attacked the capitol building.

Republicans pointed out the inconsistencies in the democrats evidence, including showing the contextual parts of videos from which some of Trump’s more controversial statements were taken. The provided context made the statements more reasonable and somewhat weakened the case for conviction, as those statements had been used as evidence by democrats. They also showed a roughly 15 minute compilation video of democrats talking about fighting in an attempt to counteract the argument that Trump had a uniquely violent rhetoric amongst politicians.

NBC news states that this was the closest to a conviction that has been achieved in presidential impeachment history. But with only seven Republicans, including Nebraska’s Ben Sasse, voting against the former president, Trump made it through 10 votes shy of the two-thirds majority.

Those seven are already facing blowback for their actions. Two of them have plans to retire their seats when their terms expire. Six of the seven, including Sasse, have already been, or soon will be, censured in their home states. In a particularly shocking development, Senator Adam Kinzinger (R) from Illinois, who voted to convict, received a handwritten letter from 11 members of his family. In this letter they disowned him, and, among other things, claimed that he had joined “the Devil’s army,” in voting against the President.

Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell is also taking criticism for the remarks he made about President Trump. McConnell, who voted to acquit, soon after the vote stated that “Former President Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty.” He also said that “There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day.”

In response to this attack, President Trump described McConnell as “a dour, sullen unsmiling political hack.” Trump also launched an assault on McConnell’s family.

With an unusual amount of bipartisan support, it was unclear if the democrats would be able to convict Donald Trump. But even after losing the White House, the former president still has enormous support in the Republican party. Whether or not he uses that support to attempt another run at the Presidency is unclear. It is clear though that this attempt to prevent that from happening has failed, and has only succeeded in heightening the tension in our country.