Donald Trump is the only president to be impeached and acquitted twice. On Feb. 13, five weeks after insurrectionists incited riots at the Capitol, former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial resulted in his acquittal. To successfully impeach the former president, the Senate needs a two-thirds majority to convict him. However, they failed to do so.
Trump's power over the Republican Party makes it impossible for anyone to go against him. His second acquittal has now set a dangerous precedent that we will let autocratic leaders violate their oath of office and evade consequences. Though most people know that Trump has a low approval rating among the public, his support has also been dwindling among the Republican party itself. So how was Trump's team able to win the trial to get him acquitted for the second time, especially since his entire defense team consisted of five lawyers who all quit a week before the trial? Trump's defense team presented a case filled with manipulative claims and a presentation of falsehoods. The case presented by his defense was a reflection of his four years in office. If the claims presented to the Senate were factual and startling, how and why did Republicans still vote to acquit Trump?
Many Republicans seemed scared of the possible electoral consequences of standing up to Trump and voting to convict him, furthering the rift among the Republican party. The final count of the vote was 53-47, and even though only seven senators voted for the conviction of Trump, it was one of the most bipartisan convictions of a president. Seven senators voting for a conviction shows the power Trump has over the party even after leaving office. Trump's influence has caused the Republican party to be split and struggle to pick between sticking with their party, whether they believe it is right or to remain loyal to the party's true values. According to Politico, Maryland GOP Governor Larry Logan said he was proud of the seven senators who voted to acquit Trump and looked forward to a Republican party without him.
Trump had a chance to accept defeat with grace and transfer power peacefully, but he did quite the opposite. He instead went to Twitter and claimed voter fraud and encouraged his supporters to go to the Capitol and protest during the official counting of the electoral college votes. On Dec. 27, Trump tweeted, "See you in Washington, DC, on Jan. 6. Don't miss it. Information to follow!" And at a Jan. 4 rally in Georgia, he said, "If the liberal Democrats take the Senate and the White House — and they're not taking this White House — we're going to fight like hell, I'll tell you right now," adding, "We're going to take it back."
Senators became aware that Trump watched the riots like a reality show. According to an NPR transcript of Trump's post-riot speech, he told the insurrectionists that he loved them instead of condemning them. The former president sent a clear message to America and the world that he approved the attack if it meant getting what he wanted. He consistently called the trials witch hunts and tried to deem them unconstitutional. Additionally, the acquittal only shows that Trump can do what he wants and get away with it. The world's supposed greatest democracy let an autocratic leader go scot-free.