Feb. 13, Trump was once again acquitted by the Senate with a vote of 57-43. Though there was a simple majority, the Constitution requires a two-thirds majority — 67 votes — to remove the president from office. In this case, the Senate needed 67 votes to convict Trump. Without enough votes, Trump was acquitted, yet again.
Before any discussion, it is necessary to explain why the impeachment happened for a second time.
Jan. 6, shortly after Trump’s violence-inciting speech, a massive insurrection broke out in Washington D.C. The mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, trying to stop the Senate from verifying Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
Trump was impeached by the House of Representative after Pence refused to initiate the Twenty-Fifth Amendment. If convicted, he would never hold public office again, which would prevent him from further endangering the democratic process and lying to the American people.
The insurrections mark that for the very first time in U.S. history, the transition of power between the current and future president was not peaceful. It also marks the first time since 1812 that the Capitol was attacked. More importantly, it represents the double standard of policing. Last but not least, this acquittal is the most accurate reflection of the double-standard held by incumbent Republicans.
Trump undoubtedly incited the violence at the Capitol. Based on what is known as the “insurrection clause” in the Fourteenth Amendment, it states that any aid or assist of insurrection or rebellion against the United States is illegal.
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Despite a failed conviction, the 57-43 decision still means that a majority of the Senate believes Trump is guilty. It is a shame to see that the leader of the free world is not held accountable for a federal crime. It is alarming that a federal crime can be dismissed simply because of party lines.
The implications of not convicting Trump are far-reaching. Foremost, they imply the possibility of another four years under an extreme right-wing populist. So far, things have been chaotic because of Trump. Due to his misinformation and ignorance, about 417,000 Americans have died of the pandemic.
Because of Trump’s xenophobic policies — such as America First — immigrants and the international population, including international students, have been deterred. These are the two quintessential economic resources for the U.S. GDP site.
Because of Trump’s tariff and Trade War policies with U.S. allies such as Germany and China, he indirectly raised the price of domestically produced goods, causing the U.S. government to run on an increasingly large federal budget deficit. According to Appendix B-47 in the Economic Report for the President, the U.S. federal budget deficit grew about $100 billion annually from 2016 to 2019.
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Trump’s predecessor, President Obama, did the opposite. He reduced the deficit effectively at a steady rate after the 2008 financial crisis. The numbers do not lie. Four more years of Trump means a larger federal budget deficit, economic depression, and most of all, more lies and misinformation that endanger the American people.
Knowing these implications, 43 Senators still refused to convict Trump. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) is one of them.
Johnson, like the other 43 republicans, is a coward who only worries about his own political interest rather than the welfare of his constituents. He refuses to abide by the Constitution that he swore to protect and serve.
Johnson, by siding with Trump, sends the wrong message. Not too long ago, a conservative political group in Wisconsin urged members of the Republican party to “prepare for war.” By siding with Trump, Johnson silently supports the insurrection and the mob who stormed the Capitol.
This double-standard legislation is typical for Republican senators. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), at the beginning of the impeachment process, said that the vote to convict Trump is “a vote of conscience.” Yet at the trial, he argued that Trump “is constitutionally not eligible for conviction.”
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Where was McConnell’s and the other 42 Senators’ conscience when the real trial happened? Nowhere to be seen. They all went into hiding because they are afraid of what Trump’s allies might do to them if they convicted him. The hypocrisy must be stopped.
At the moment, even if Trump cannot be tried as the president, he still can and absolutely should be tried as a private citizen whose actions present a danger to the U.S. government and to the American people.
This time, the prosecutor can use the insurrection clause, which is Sec. 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment, charging Trump with the crime of providing assistance to the insurrection against the U.S. government.
If successfully convicted, the judge should offer him no plea deal, a life sentence, and strip him the right of participating in any local, state, or federal election.
We, as constituents and as American citizens, cannot let people like Trump and those who support violence instead of laws to hold offices.
With that being said, in the next election, we have a social responsibility to hold Johnson accountable for his actions and potential threats to public safety. It is our duty to vote him and other Trump allies out of the office so proper social and constitutional orders can be restored to their normal state.
Ken Wang ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in political science.