Senate acquits Trump after second impeachment trial

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Derek DeMartino sat on his couch on Jan. 6, shocked and horrified while watching the insurrection at the Capitol. 

That day, then-President Donald Trump held a rally in Washington D.C. He spoke to thousands of his supporters, all of whom were convinced the election was stolen. Trump spoke to the rally-goers in the hours before the riot.

“You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong,” Trump said in his speech. “We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated.” 

These are just some of the words that would lead the House of Representatives to impeach Trump for a second time. The charge? Incitement of an insurrection. While the House voted to impeach, the Senate would ultimately not convict Trump.

 DeMartino couldn’t believe what he was seeing as he watched the riot unfold.

“Oh gosh. I felt pure horror once I started to sit down and realize what was happening. Like jeez, actual horror and disgust,” DeMartino said.

DeMartino is the president of the Webster University Conservative Club (WUCON). Following the insurrection of the Capitol, DeMartino decided it would be beneficial for his club to initiate calm conversations with left-leaning students. 

“We were talking about what we thought the response from the other side would be. We are trying to differentiate ourselves from the people that stormed the Capitol,” DeMartino said. 

The club is open to all. DeMartino and WUCON wanted all students to share and embrace their feelings to ensure there wouldn’t be any friction on campus. 

On Jan. 13, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump. The House charged him with inciting the insurrection of the Capitol. The Senate delayed the trial until this week because of President Biden’s cabinet confirmations, as well as focusing on COVID-19 relief. However, the delay would cause several senators to believe the trial to be unconstitutional. 

Trump is the only president in United States history who has been impeached twice. The first time he was impeached was on Dec. 18, 2019. Then, the House impeached Trump because he allegedly solicited foreign influence in the 2016 election to help his election bid. This is the first time a president is accused of inciting violence against another branch of government. 

“It puts kind of a black mark by his name,” political science professor Gwyneth Williams said. 

Williams said she thought Trump’s conviction would be unlikely. Williams’ suspicion was correct. The Senate acquitted Trump, with 57 Senators voting to convict and 43 Senators voting to acquit. Seven Republican members voted to convict Trump, 10 less than Democrats needed, according to Williams. 

“You’d have to get all Democrats which I don’t think will be a problem, and 17 Republicans and I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Williams said. 

The impeachment of Trump has caused debates between the political parties. One side of the debate believes it is unconstitutional to impeach a President who is no longer in office. 

The Senate, however, decided it is constitutional to impeach a president while he’s still in office and hold the conviction trial after he is removed. 

“The political parties are just so polarized right now,” Williams said. “Even with Joe Biden being President, Trumpism can exist outside the person of Trump.”

Trumpism is a collection of policies and ideologies Trump held: isolationism, behaviors, demagoguery, and statements of white identity.

“I really don’t know if Trumpism will diminish with Joe Biden being President,” Williams said. “Some Republicans that were critical of Trump have walked that back because their constituents still like Trump.” 

The country dichotomized during Trump’s presidency, but Williams believes it’s possible for Biden’s presidency to help unite the nation. 

“We need to make sure we can all come together in the end, like an olive branch. You know, something diplomatic,” DeMartino said. 

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Jordyn Grimes
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