‘A moment of truth’? After years of Trump’s lies, amplified by MAGA media, that proved impossible for most Republicans
This Senate trial would not be a contest among lawyers, or between political parties, said the Maryland Democrat, who led the prosecuting team trying to make the case that the 45th president had incited the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
No, the trial would be, and should be, “a moment of truth for America.”
An incomparable historic rebuke of a president by his own party
The final chapter of Donald Trump’s presidency was written Saturday, leaving no question about how it will be perceived by history. Seven senators from his own party voted to convict him on an article of impeachment alleging that he incited an insurrection against the government, a condemnation unlike any other in American history. Trump’s second impeachment came much closer to conviction than either his first or that of Bill Clinton in 1999, precisely because so many Republicans supported the move.
The ultimate acquittal was expected. As we reported this week, only three members of the Republican caucus represent states that didn’t vote for Trump in last year’s election. Only about a third of the caucus faces reelection in 2022, which might have been expected to motivate them to appeal to a Republican base that is still strongly loyal to the former president.
Yet five Republicans from states that backed Trump supported conviction. The seven Republicans joining all 48 Democrats and the Senate’s two independents were Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah). Of those seven, only two — Burr and Toomey — have announced plans to retire, and only Murkowski faces reelection in 2022.
Dana Milbank /WaPo:
Trump left them to die. 43 Senate Republicans still licked his boots.
Her account wasn’t seriously or substantively refuted. On Saturday afternoon, senators agreed that Herrera Beutler’s statement would be entered into the trial record as evidence.
Even knowing this, most Republican senators, as long expected, voted to acquit Trump, a craven surrender to the political imperative not to cross the demagogue. But the impeachment trial was not in vain, for it revealed the ugly truth: Trump knew lawmakers’ lives were in danger from his violent supporters, and instead of helping the people’s representatives escape harm, Trump scoffed.
Trump escapes conviction but even his allies say he’s damaged
The former president may be out for revenge after his acquittal. But beyond that, his future is uncertain.
Without the legal protection against federal criminal prosecution afforded sitting presidents, Trump faces a web of investigations into his conduct in office and business practices beforehand. Just this week, Georgia prosecutors announced a new probe into Trump’s myriad attempts to overturn the state’s 2020 election results, including during a threatening phone call on Jan. 2 with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The investigation could open the door for criminal charges against the former president by state and local authorities.
Trump could also face criminal charges in Washington, D.C., if the city’s attorney general, Karl Racine, decides to pursue a case against Trump for his alleged role in the Capitol riots. Racine was reportedly weighing the move even before the Senate voted to acquit Trump on Saturday.
Michael W. McConnell/NY Times:
How Democrats Could Have Made Republicans Squirm
G.O.P. lawmakers were unlikely to convict Trump. But a different approach to impeachment would have been more difficult for them to ignore.
The House should have crafted its impeachment resolution to avoid a legalistic focus on the former president’s intent. This could have been done by broadening the impeachment article. The charges should have encompassed Mr. Trump’s use of the mob and other tactics to intimidate government officials to void the election results, and his dereliction of duty by failing to try to end the violence in the hours after he returned to the White House from the demonstration at the Ellipse.
Whether or not Mr. Trump wanted his followers to commit acts of violence, he certainly wanted them to intimidate Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress. That was the whole point of their “walk,” as Mr. Trump put it, to the Capitol. The mob was not sent to persuade with reasoning or evidence.
Garrett Epps/Washington Monthly:
The Jamie Raskin Moment
At the bizarre trial of Donald Trump, the Maryland Congressman, law professor, and grieving father was the man of the hour.
Then Raskin closed, explaining the impact of the attack on the Capitol on him and his family. He had invited his daughter and son-in-law to be present to witness the certification of the election—as much, it seems, to distract him and them from the funeral the day before of Raskin’s beloved son Tommy who had committed suicide. While Raskin was hustled to a different location, they were locked in the majority leader’s office—and, like most others, trapped by the mob, anticipating imminent violent death.
When they were reunited, Raskin said to his daughter that the next time she came to the Capitol would not be so bad. “I don’t want to come back to the Capitol,” she said.
At this point, Raskin’s voice broke.
That moment is what anyone who watched will remember, not just during the trial but for years to come. Aristotle wrote in Rhetoric that forensic rhetoric had three aspects—the logos, or the validity of what was said; the ethos, or the implication by the speaker that he or she is the kind of person whom the listener should listen to; and the pathos, or the emotional content of the speech and of the issue it concerns.
Raskin crushed all three.
Jason Sattler/USA Today:
Trump’s two impeachments hold same lesson: Republicans can’t be trusted with our democracy
Democrats have less than 2 years to make sure America never has another president who would incite a mob against his own government. End the filibuster.
And there was the pandemic that left more than 400,000 Americans dead on Trump’s watch, with 40% of those deaths being avoidable, according to the recent findings of a Lancet Commission.
So it’s hard to tell exactly what made this country reject Trump’s GOP so quickly. What is clear is Democrats now have less than two years to do everything they can to make sure America never faces another president who would turn a deadly mob on his own running mate and our government.
We have now seen the limits of the Republicans who believe they have any responsibility to govern, especially when a Democrat is president: exactly seven Republicans. But to make almost anything happen in Congress, you need 10 Republican senators because of the Senate filibuster. Actually, let’s be precise. Because of Mitch’s Filibuster™.