Not Guilty: The Acquittal of President Trump
Updated: Jan 13, 2022
As the Impeachment trial has come to a close, the Senate has voted to acquit President Trump on the two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of justice — 53 Senators voted for acquittal, while the other 52 voted for removal. Their decision marks the end of a historical trial in United States history.
Although Democrats are disappointed, the results of the vote were no surprise. Given that the Senate is mainly controlled by Republicans, it was highly suspected before the trial (and affirmed outright by the Senate) that they would vote for acquittal even before the proceeding began.
Why is there Controversy?
One of the most controversial parts of the proceeding was when the Republican-controlled Senate voted not to have any witnesses testify during the trial. The minority Democrat Senators took the position that you cannot possibly have an impeachment trial unless you have witnesses testifying. It should be noted that in the other 2 previous impeachment trials of President Johnson and of President Clinton, witnesses testified during those trials. Democrat Senators further pointed out that criminal and civil trials have witnesses testifying during those proceedings, thus, this trial shouldn’t be any different.
Former National Security Advisor, John Bolton, made it known to everyone at the time that he was willing to testify if he was subpoenaed by the Senate. Despite Bolton's availability and willingness to testify, the Republican Senators voted not to have him or any witnesses testify. Because witnesses were not allowed to testify, the Democrats in the Senate coined the process as being rigged.
The other controversial event was when one Republican Senator, Mitt Romney, diverged from his party and voted with the Democrats for removal. The Senator felt compelled by the evidence and remained unmoved by the arguments made by Dershowitz, one of President Trump's defense attorneys. Dershowitz argued that if President Trump believes his own reelection is in the public interest then the actions he takes to get himself reelected are justified.
Romney described Trump’s behavior as that of an autocrat and felt that Dershowitz’s arguments were illogical. As a result of his vote, Romney has received a huge amount of backlash. Romney is believed to be the first senator who has ever voted against his own party in an impeachment proceeding.
After the Fact
In President Trump’s response to his acquittal, he made several responses to Romney’s vote, deeming it as what happens when “you fail so badly running” for president. He also denounced Romney’s religious justification for his vote. “You have some who used religion as a crutch,” he said.
“We went through hell, unfairly, did nothing wrong, did nothing wrong,” Trump said of the investigations that led to his impeachment.
Following the acquittal, the President had fired multiple officials in his administration who had testified in the impeachment inquiry.
The Republican Senators had multiple justifications for their decisions to acquit the president. Although many Republican senators were deafly silent about publicly stating their views, some did acknowledge that they believe what the president did was wrong, but it did not rise to the level of removal.
The most interesting point of view came from Republican Senator Collins, who took the position that what the president did was wrong, but that he learned his lesson.
Image from the US Senate via Commons.Wikimedia.com: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chief_Justice_John_Roberts_presides_over_the_impeachment_trial_of_Donald_Trump.jpg