Commander-Im-peached? The Second Senate Impeachment Trials of Donald Trump

Sophie Gebhardt, Journalist

From February 9th to February 13th, the Senate held its trial for the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump regarding his role in inciting the capitol insurrection on January 6th. Senators on both sides of the aisle agreed on key points of the House impeachment manager’s case. An emphasis on the constitutionality of the process emerged as the main point of disagreement in the trial. Despite the large amount of evidence presented by the impeachment managers, former President Trump was not convicted. 

 

One of the big arguments used by President Trump’s attorneys was whether or not the trials themselves were constitutional. The defense argued that because Trump is no longer serving in office, it is unconstitutional to impeach him and that he should be charged in a criminal case. Before the trial itself occurred there was a vote held, and (per majority vote) the Senate deemed that the trial was, in fact, constitutional. 

 

The impeachment manager team was made up of 7 representatives, including Rep. Joe Neguse (Colorado’s own 2nd Congressional District) and Rep. Diana Degette of Colorado’s 1st Congressional District. Throughout the trial, the impeachment managers presented video evidence from the capitol insurrection. Many of these videos showed horrific scenes from that day, including rioters assaulting law enforcement officials and Congressional representatives being rushed to safety. Many of those videos were then contrasted with clips of President Trump, Rudy Guliani (the president’s personal lawyer), Donald Trump Jr., and others in the Trump camp who all spoke at the rally taking place before the insurrectionists stormed the capitol. These clips were then flipped by the impeachment managers to argue that former President Trump’s language and message from this rally and countless others in the past directly contributed to the sparking of the insurrection and the violent assault on our nation’s capitol. 

 

In the end, the impeachment manager’s case was not enough to gain a two-thirds vote for conviction. The final vote total resulted in 57 votes for a guilty verdict and 43 for not guilty, falling 10 short of the necessary 67 for conviction. 7 Republicans crossed party lines and joined the 50 Democrats in issuing a vote for guilty. These Republican Senators included Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, and Richard M. Burr of North Carolina. Many of these Republicans have since been censured by their respective state’s parties.

 

These trials mark the 21st time the House has approved articles of impeachment, and Former-President Trump has become the only federal office holder to be impeached twice. While Former-President Trump was not convicted by the Senate, there remains a possibility that he could be charged in criminal or civil courts.

 

Ms. Lozen elaborated for us on her personal reaction to the historic impeachment trials and offered some insightful questions we all should ask ourselves when thinking about our current events through the lens of historical significance. She says, “When seemingly major events occur, like the attack on the Capitol and the second impeachment of Trump, I often contemplate how historians will view these events in ten, twenty, or even fifty years. Will these be viewed as the ‘sparks’ of major societal conflict or change? Or will they become blips on the early 21st century timeline marking moments of discord but offering no legacy?”