Guilt denied: what will follow Trump’s acquittal by the US Senate

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Despite the fact that the US Senate acquitted ex-President Donald Trump, the impeachment initiated by the Democrats will have consequences for political and social stability in the country, experts interviewed by Izvestia believe. In their opinion, the process launched by the Democrats worked not to overcome, but to deepen the split in American society. Now that everything is over, the Republicans have to deal with the way out of the crisis, given that as many as seven senators from this party voted to find the ex-leader guilty. And Democrats may well count on members of the Senate and House of Representatives loyal to Donald Trump to recall this act of political revenge over the next four years of Joe Biden’s rule.

Deal with the end

On February 13, 2021, Donald Trump became twice the record holder of the United States – he was not only the first American president in history to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives, but also the first whom the Senate acquitted as many times. 57 out of 100 senators voted to convict the former head of state of incitement to the January 6 mutiny, when his supporters broke into the Capitol and, according to some, trampled on American democracy. Seven “traitorous Republicans” also joined the 50 Democrats. However, the remaining 43 party members remained loyal to the former US leader. Since 67 votes were required for a successful, from the point of view of the prosecution, completion of the procedure, the Democrats were again out of work.

If the first impeachment took place in full accordance with the procedure (without going into details of its validity), then many immediately dubbed the second a political, but not a legal process. And although even some Republicans were shocked by the capture of the Capitol by Donald Trump’s supporters, to put it mildly, it was initially clear that it would not be possible to complete the impeachment before the expiration of the term of the 45th US President. The Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, were not deterred. The Republican’s speech on January 6 in front of an inflamed crowd was instantly interpreted as a call for mutiny, and threats to launch a new impeachment followed when the pogrom had not yet been eliminated in the building of Congress.

On January 13, the House of Representatives impeached the incumbent head of the White House. The further actions of Donald Trump’s opponents caused a lot of controversy. Supporters of the outgoing leader insisted that the case should not be brought to proceedings in the Senate, since it could begin after January 20 and resign. And, as you know, the main purpose of impeachment is removal from office. But it is impossible to remove a person from a post that he has already left, and therefore the process is unconstitutional, they insisted. The Democrats had their own truth. In their opinion, the fact that Donald Trump has ceased to be president did not absolve him of responsibility, so he must be tried at all costs.

There was only one practical sense of the undertaking. If 67 – that is, two-thirds – of the senators voted for impeachment, the ex-president would be found guilty. After that, it was possible to put to a vote the question of a lifetime ban for him to hold public office. Thus, the Democrats could get rid of their nightmare – the prospect of seeing Donald Trump as a presidential candidate in 2024. However, when it became clear that 17 “traitors” from the Republicans were not recruited, the process finally turned into a battle of formalities, which, it seems, everyone wanted to end as soon as possible.

Initially, the Senate was supposed to issue a verdict no earlier than February 15. The main time was to take the speeches of prosecutors from the House of Representatives and defenders of the ex-president (each side was given 16 hours for this). However, the prosecutors finished it in a little more than 10 hours, and the lawyers took only three hours. On February 13, the senators voted to summon witnesses, which was logical in the event of such important proceedings as impeachment. However, this automatically extended the entire action for at least another day. After an hour of bickering, they changed their minds and decided to finish the case on Saturday. The outcome is predictable – Donald Trump has been declared innocent and remains in the political game.

The hunt begins

Immediately after the vote, Donald Trump issued a statement in which he called what was happening “a witch hunt” and complained that no president had ever gone through something like this. The ex-leader did not hide his joy and threatened his enemies that in the coming months he would share something important and interesting with America.

“Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again is just beginning,” said the 45th US President.

It is still difficult to predict in detail the consequences of what happened, but it is clear that the actions of the Democrats will not remain unanswered and certainly will not bring unity to American society, says Yuri Rogulev, director of the Franklin Roosevelt Foundation for the Study of the United States (MSU). Moreover, none of the two possible decisions of the Senate would help the ambassador of the launch of the procedure to overcome the split.

– Obviously, it was a desire for revenge. A show trial that had nothing to do with law. This is evidenced even by the fact that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court refused to participate in this procedure. That is, we are talking about pure politics, and not of the highest order. Just a desire to finish off Trump himself, his supporters and, of course, hit the Republican Party. All this will not contribute to political, public and social peace, – the expert explained to Izvestia.

Both parties are now faced with the task of overcoming internal divisions. At the same time, seven Republicans who have joined the Democrats face the position of outcasts, since they went against party discipline, the political scientist noted.

On February 13, a “grandiose circus show” ended in the United States, noted the president of the American University in Moscow, Edward Lozansky. And now the country can return to solving the numerous problems and challenges it faces. Another thing is that demonstration performances organized by the democrats will not do without consequences. According to the political scientist, Trump’s opponents and his fellow party members who supported the impeachment “were solving their own personal problems” in an attempt to gain political points. Against the background of a certain crisis of the bipartisan system in the United States and talks about the probable separation of a new political force from the Republican Party, the emergence of a third large party is now quite possible.

“Such a party can be followed not only by the majority of supporters of the Republicans – those who“ first think about the Motherland, and then about themselves, ”but also some of the democrats and independent voters, Eduard Lozansky suggested in an interview with Izvestia. – Many are tired of the outdated two-party system, the rating of which is dropping lower and lower.

According to the portal, which publishes all opinion polls on US political life, the average approval rating for the work of the Congress is at the level of 27%. About 59% of Americans are dissatisfied with the actions of legislators. Others find it difficult to express their attitude.

However, as Valery Garbuzov, the head of the Institute of the USA and Canada of the Russian Academy of Sciences, explained to Izvestia, if one of the Republicans – even Donald Trump himself – decides to create a new party, it will not lead to anything good. According to him, examples of party fragmentation have already happened in American history, but they ended in the victory of the force, which managed to maintain unity. In addition, Donald Trump has already announced that he is going to help Republicans regain control of Congress in the midterm elections in 2022.

Such obviously political processes as the second impeachment of Donald Trump may well cause a boomerang effect, experts agree. This, of course, does not mean that Republicans will impeach Democratic President Joe Biden. But he definitely shouldn’t expect close cooperation with them. Considering that the head of the White House has more than enough initiatives, in some issues he cannot do without the support of the opposition party. And he seems to understand this – that’s why he tried to stay away from impeachment. Another thing is that his party members thought more about punishing Donald Trump than about helping the new American leader in the early days of his presidency.