by Jimmy Yates ‘21
Former President Donald Trump was impeached in the House of Representatives for inciting an insurrection on January 6, when he held a rally outside the White House, continued claims of fraudulent voting results, and urged his supporters to march down to the U.S. Capitol, where they turned violent and breached the Capitol. While Trump is no longer president, the impeachment process is still significant because if convicted in the Senate, he could be prohibited from holding public office again, and he won’t receive several post-presidency benefits. However, it seems unlikely, as 67 senators, including 17 republicans, need to vote against Trump in order to convict.
Impeachment Managers began the impeachment trial with videos of the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 and former President Trump’s comments encouraging them. Maryland Representative and Democrat Jamie Raskin, along with fellow impeachment managers Joe Neguse and David Cicilline, recalled past impeachments of government officials after they no longer held office, citing many scholars, even conservatives, that agreed with their interpretation that former public officials, and presidents, can be impeached. Raskin ended Democratic impeachment arguments for the day with an emotional anecdote from his personal life, reminding senators of their shared traumatic experience on January 6. Trump’s attorneys, Bruce Castor and David Schoen, predictably focused on the fact that Trump is no longer president, and that as a private citizen, he cannot be removed from office. Schoen cited scholars, books, and the Constitution in his aggressive arguments for the unconstitutionality of this trial.
- Senators voted 56-44 that the trial is constitutional, six Republicans voted yes.
- Trump’s attorney’s repeatedly dismissed the claim that Trump is responsible for the actions of the mob, as he was merely exercising his right to free speech.
- Republican Senators including Lindsay Graham and Susan Collins, were underwhelmed by Trump’s defense, claiming the attorney’s line of reasoning and arguments were not clear. Graham still voted that the trial was unconstitutional.
“That’s a high crime and misdemeanor. If that’s not an impeachable offense, then there’s no such thing.” -Impeachment Manager Jaime Raskin.
“This chamber and the chamber across the way will change one day and partisan impeachments will become commonplace.” -Trump’s attorney Bruce Castor.
“He would have you believe there is absolutely nothing the Senate can do about it,” Mr. Raskin said gesturing at the images from January 6. “No trial. No facts. He wants you to decide that the Senate is powerless at that point. That can’t be right.” –Impeachment Manager Jaime Raskin.
DAYS 2 & 3
On the second day of Trump’s impeachment trial, Impeachment Managers once again turned to videos from the breach of the Capitol Building, this time using never before seen footage from security cameras, Capitol Police, and journalists inside the building at the time of the attack. The chilling footage revealed just how close intruders had come to congress members, including Senators Chuck Schumer and Mitt Romney, who were quickly escorted to safety seconds before intruders flooded into the halls of the Capitol. The next day, Impeachment Managers focused on Trump’s words and messages at his rally on January 6, encouraging his supporters to “fight like hell.” Democrats pointed to Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacy in the past, including his response to the events of Charlottesville in 2017, claiming there were “very fine people on both sides,” and his video response to the breach of the Capitol, when he told the rioters, “we love you, you’re very special.”
- Impeachment Managers described the horrible injuries suffered by Capitol Police and security guards on January 6; some suffered brain injuries, one was stabbed by a metal fence stake, and another is going to lose their eye.
- Democrats showed a graphic that displayed how close intruders, chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” who verified the Electoral College results, came to the Vice President and his family, as close as 60 feet away from where they were sheltering.
“If you don’t find this a high crime and misdemeanor today, you have set a new terrible standard for presidential misconduct in the United States of America.” -Impeachment Manager Jaime Raskin.
“I’m not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years… I’m afraid he’s going to run again and lose, because he can do this again.” -Impeachment Manager Ted Lieu.
“He [Trump] knew they would jump to violence at any signal, at any sign.” –Impeachment Manager Joe Neguse.
On the last day of the second impeachment trial of former President Donald J. Trump, following brief arguments from Trump’s defense team the previous day, Lead Impeachment Manager Jaime Raskin brought to light representative Jamie Herrera Beutler’s statement regarding President Trump’s response to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, when McCarthy asked the President to help stop the riot, and Trump refused, saying that the mob was more upset about the election results then McCarthy was. Trump’s lawyers objected to the Impeachment Manager’s reasons for conviction, once again stating that the Senate does not have jurisdiction to try a former President, and that Trump was acting within his First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Afterwards, Impeachment Managers urged Senators to vote not with regard to their party, but their country, reminding them of the weight of this decision and the possible consequences if Trump is acquitted.
- 57 senators, including seven Republicans, one more than those who voted the trial was constitutional on Tuesday, voted to convict former President Trump of inciting an insurrection on January 6.
- The 57 votes for conviction, falling ten short of a needed 67 two-thirds majority, is the most bipartisan support for conviction in impeachment history.
- In response to Trump’s lawyers claiming the former President could not have incited an insurrection on one day, in one speech, House Impeachment Managers showed clips of Trump refusing to accept the results of the election, continuously spreading the false information that the 2020 election would be incredibly fraudulent.
“This trial, in the final analysis, is not about Donald Trump. The country and the world know who Donald Trump is. This trial is about who we are, who we are.” -Impeachment Manager Jaime Raskin.
“The stakes could not be higher. Because the cold, hard truth is that what happened on January 6 can happen again. I fear, like many of you do, that the violence we saw on that terrible day may be just the beginning.” –Impeachment Manager Joe Neguse.
“No president, or anyone else, has the First Amendment right to incite a violent attack on our government” –Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey, who voted to convict Trump.
“While a close call, I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we therefore lack jurisdiction.” -Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.