The GQP made what is likely to be a costly decision to let Trump off the hook.
The dust has settled on Donald
Trump’s record breaking 2nd impeachment trial, and the Monday
morning quarterbacking, recriminations and speculation about the political future
for both parties expectedly began.
For his part, the former president
by a vote of 57-43 was found guilty of the impeachment charge of “inciting an
insurrection” for the deadly January 6 assault on the Capitol and democracy,
but because of the Constitution’s requirement that two-thirds of the Senate is needed
to remove and disqualify, Trump wriggled off the hook.
Keep in mind, if you win or lose
and election by a 57 percent to 43 percent margin, that would be considered a
landslide by many. So Trump’s feeling so good about the result or believing he
was exonerated is absurd. The failure to convict was largely accomplished based
on a technicality that Republicans believed or they say they believed that a
former president cannot be impeached and removed from office despite historical
precedent. That was the off-ramp for 43 Republicans including Senate Minority
Leader Mitch McConnell.
Trump issued a statement that
said the impeachment was “yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the
history of our Country” and that “no president has ever gone through anything
Trump is correct on the second
part. No president has gone through anything like this because no president
ever welcomed and accepted help from a foreign country to win an election
(2016) and obstructed justice in the attempt to get to the bottom of it. No
president ever pressured the leader of a foreign country in order to obtain
dirt on his potential opponent, which happened in the lead-up to the 2020
And no president ever incited a
mob to breach, loot and defile the Capitol and to threaten the safety of the
second and third people in the line of succession as well as other legislators
and staff, and to kill one and injure over 140 police officers attempting to
thwart the violent domestic terrorism that was unfolding. Moreover, Trump did
nothing to stop the insurrection while it was underway and gleefully watched on
TV as the rioters succeeded, at least temporarily, in halting the certification
of Electoral College tallies.
The nine House Managers led by
Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland were spectacular, compelling and proficient in
laying out the case in a clear precise manner. The evidence had been
overwhelming as was the video footage of police officers being beaten to a pulp
by the Trump insurrectionists. (What happened to Blue Lives Matter?)
It was a decisive victory of fact presentation and style over the G team – the 7th team of lawyers to defend Trump in this battle. This latest group mirrored Trump: incompetent, clownish and lying.
But the ever-shrinking GQP, a party that decidedly supports a congresswoman who ascribes to QAnon conspiracy theories, punishes competent representatives who vote their conscience and one that censures senators who vote according to facts and evidence, is still hitched to the Trump wagon.
Lindsey Graham, a senator who
has lost all what remains of his credibility said after the Senate trial, “The
Republican Party is alive and well.” Really?
Following the bloody
insurrection, the attempted coup to overthrow our government by preventing the peaceful
transfer of power—the hallmark of our democracy—the party lost tens of
thousands of registered voters across the land. Unless you’re a hard core Trump
loyalist, most people from both parties were sickened by the events of January
6—the third day of infamy for the U.S.
Yet, the Trump base is what
Republican politicians must covet and fear to successfully ward off primary
challenges as the base comprises the most reliable voters in primaries.
McConnell doesn’t want any part of Trump but had to vote to acquit lest he lose
his leadership position. His speech following the vote twisted him into a knot
by condemning Trump in no uncertain terms for the January 6 coup attempt but
used the escape hatch of “jurisdiction” as a means to justify his not guilty
vote despite the Senate’s vote that rendered jurisdiction on a non-issue.
Always savvy and calculating,
McConnell suggested that Trump is not out of the woods legally, which is true.
But I think McConnell is trying to set a trap whereby the new Attorney General,
most likely Merrick Garland, would be encouraged to investigate Trump for
federal violations. If that were to occur, McConnell would cry “Democrat overreach” for investigating a former president and will fund raise and rally
the GQP troops off of it.
Democrats must seize upon the
Republicans’ failure to quit Trump even after the egregious January 6 event and
the blatant lies Trump used over a period of months to whip his white
nationalists, militia, QAnon and other components of his base into a frenzy.
By no means, was the insurrection a surprise.
January 6 and Trump’s escape
from any real punishment so far will not help expand the party and win over
suburban and college educated voters. A break from Trump was needed by the
party, but the lawmakers who supported Trump by choosing convenience over
conscience will pay a steep price.
They didn’t know how to quit
him, and they still don’t.