Donald Trump acquitted, what now?

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WASHINGTON | The US Congress has acquitted, Saturday, Donald Trump after his second impeachment trial.

• Read also: Although acquitted, Trump is “responsible” for assault on Capitol Hill, says McConnell

A little over three weeks after the handover with Joe Biden, another page is turning.

Historians will long debate the impact of the January 6 assault on Capitol Hill and the bizarre lawsuit that followed on American democracy.

But in the short and medium term, what will be the consequences for the main players in political life?

Donald Trump, the big blur

Donald Trump acquitted, what now?

Even if the suspense was almost zero, the acquittal is obviously a relief for Donald Trump.

In the short term, this vote gives him the opportunity to take up one of his favorite campaign arguments: posing as a martyr, the victim of an incessant “witch hunt”.

The only president in history to be indicted twice, he is also the only one to have been acquitted twice. “This can be a rallying cry: to hammer home that it has been targeted by the left and by the press, unfairly,” said Capri Cafaro, former Democrat and teacher at American University.

Reacting to the Senate verdict, Donald Trump seemed to set a date for the future. “Our magnificent, historic and patriotic movement, Make America Great Again, is just beginning,” he said.

But the equation, which worked during his four years in power, has become more complicated since the dark day of January 6 and the violence perpetrated by his supporters.

Many Republican officials have distanced themselves, which is a major handicap for a possible reconquest, even if its ability to galvanize the crowds remains a major asset.

Without an elected mandate, deprived of his Twitter account, reclusive in his golf club in Mar-a-Lago, more than 1,300 kilometers from Washington, he could also find it difficult, now, to be heard.

Especially since the next presidential deadline of 2024 is already whetting appetites.

One of the possible contenders for the Republican nomination, Nikki Haley, has already cut ties and felt he was offside for the upcoming deadlines.

“He took a path he shouldn’t have taken, and we shouldn’t have followed him and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we must never let it start again ”.

Republican Party, the big building site

Donald Trump acquitted, what now?

After being lined up – sometimes reluctantly, but always obediently – behind Donald Trump for four years, the Grand Old Party is going through a period of immense upheaval.

A handful of elected officials cry out loud and clear that Donald Trump’s place cannot be questioned and that he is the natural candidate for 2024.

“This party is his. It does not belong to anyone else ”, launched a few days ago the elected Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has time supported the theses of the far-right conspiratorial movement QAnon.

But many party leaders want a new start. Faced with his polls which remain flattering for Trump, they wonder how to turn the page: Brutally? Slowly? Imperceptibly?

Beyond the trauma of January 6, the party holds it responsible for the loss of the Senate: its refusal to accept its defeat for more than two months has placed the “GOP” in a wobbly position during the two opening partial senators. January, won by the Democrats.

There remains a worrying point for party strategists: support for Trump during his impeachment trial, guided by the desire not to anger the ex-president, could have an electoral cost.

“The senators who voted for acquittal may have protected themselves against perilous primaries in the face of extreme candidates within their party, but they also made themselves more vulnerable during real elections,” said Wendy Schiller, of the Brown University.

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell voted to acquit, hiding behind questions of law. But to immediately declare that Donald Trump is “in fact” and “morally” responsible for the violence of January 6.

A hundred former American officials have circulated the idea, in recent days, of the creation of a new center-right party that would bring together Republicans wishing to cut clean with Trumpism.

But the chances of breaking the American model, which has always been based around two parties, appear extremely slim.

Joe Biden, the horizon clear

Donald Trump acquitted, what now?

For Joe Biden too, the fact that the trial of his predecessor was extremely fast (five days) is a relief, so much he feared that he would interfere with the start of his mandate.

Concretely, this means that the Senate will have more time to devote to the confirmation of the members of its government and its legislative priorities.

More broadly, he can now apply, with millimeter communication in support, his interference-free strategy: focus on the fight against COVID-19 and disregard his predecessor.

He remains an infinitely more delicate task at the end of this unprecedented sequence in history: to bring together, as he promised in the campaign, a fractured America.