15 February 2021
Donald Trump's second impeachment failed as ignominiously as the first. Trump went down in history as a president who was twice impeached - and both times was acquitted by a Senate court. The first time this happened a year ago, on February 5, 2020, Trump was acquitted of both charges concocted by Democrats in the House of Representatives - abuse of power and obstruction of a congressional investigation. Then he was acquitted by a majority of votes: 52 votes against 48 - under the first article and 53 votes against 47 - under the second.
This time everything turned out to be more dramatic.
First, Trump was no longer president. Therefore, one of the main questions facing the senators was: "Is it possible at all to impeach a person who no longer occupies a state post?"
Many lawyers considered this to be unconstitutional. But there were also those who argued that there was a precedent of this kind, which means that the Senate, which is sensitive to traditions and customs, should recognize as permissible "retroactive impeachment."
Democratic lawyers called the trial of the "minister of war" (as the head of the Ministry of Defense was then called) in the administration of Ulysses Grant by William Worth Belknap, who had stained himself with corruption "a precedent". Sensing that the case smelled of impeachment, Belknap resigned from his post, but the Senate still voted that the former minister, as a private person, could not be exempted from court. Belknap was ultimately acquitted because his opponents failed to achieve the required two-thirds majority on any of the five counts.
Anglo-Saxon law is known to be based on precedent. Therefore, the fact that Trump's second impeachment does not explicitly violate the US Constitution is somehow still possible to agree. But here's the rest ...
Senate impeachment hearings follow the rules established many years ago. It has its own prosecutors (they are called "impeachment managers"), in the role of which were the Democrats from the House of Representatives, there are their own lawyers (these were real lawyers hired by Trump, and hired almost at the last moment, since part of the legal team of the ex-president refused to defend him in the Senate a week before the impeachment began), there is also a presiding judge. This should be the head of the Supreme Court, but John Roberts, the President of the US Armed Forces, refused to prosecute Trump, since he was no longer president. And in the end, the chairman was also Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy - the oldest Democratic of the current Congress (he is even older than Biden - he will soon turn 81).
The procedure itself is identical to the standard litigation: the parties present their arguments, witnesses are summoned to the court, evidence and evidence are examined, and then a vote takes place in which the senators act as a regular jury. The difference lies in the fact that if the jury must unanimously decide to pass a sentence on especially grave crimes, then the senators to convict the president had to vote for his guilt by two-thirds of the composition of the upper chamber. That is, 67 votes were required to convict Trump.
At the time of the first impeachment, the Republicans had a majority in the Senate. After the re-election in Georgia, a precarious balance was established in the upper house (50-50), and given the vice-president's vote, equal to the senator's, the Democrats had a simple majority. But in order to condemn Trump, Democrats had to win the votes of 17 defectors from the camp of "elephants."
A year ago, the only Republican who dared to speak out in favor of impeachment of Trump was Mitt Romney, Obama's former unlucky rival in the 2012 election.
Now the situation was different: those senators who disliked or even hated Trump could no longer be afraid of the anger of the outgoing president. Therefore, this time there were more of them - as many as seven people. Here are their names: Richard Barr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sass, Pat Toomey. The betrayal of some was expected (Romney, Murkowski, Collins), others - such as Richard Barr, who repeatedly emphasized his closeness to Trump while he was president - came as an unpleasant surprise. One way or another, seven people were not enough to condemn the former head of state. As one of the Russian notable liberals wrote with obvious regret, “ten votes were not enough”.
Donald Trump retained the right to run for top government positions, which the Democrats feared most of all: now, in 2022, he can become, for example, a senator, and in 2024 he can again take part in the presidential race - with unpredictable consequences.
However, the historic significance of the Trump trial is far more than a simple excuse for America's brightest president in half a century.
In defending Trump, his lawyers defended primarily the United States Constitution - a document that was once sacred to American politicians, regardless of their party affiliation. During the hearings on Trump's second impeachment, it became clear that the Democrats no longer intend to be guided by either the spirit or the letter of the Constitution, if those prevent them from dealing with their sworn enemy.
Leading "impeachment manager" Jamie Raskin has repeatedly stated that since Trump's trial was not a "criminal trial," the right to due process did not apply to him. This meant that, according to the Democrats, Trump had no right to call defense witnesses and did not have to justify himself at all, but could only humbly listen to accusations and repent of his crimes.
Crimes that never really happened! After all, the Democrats all the first three days of the trial did nothing but accuse Trump of “inciting mutiny,” that is, the storming of the Capitol on January 6. Speaking to his supporters at a rally in Washington on January 6, Trump said literally the following: “We are fighting with all our might. And if we do not fight for life and death, we will lose the country. " And it was in these words that the "impeachment managers" saw the notorious incitement to rebellion. But at the same time, none of the nearly 200 criminal cases initiated by the US Department of Justice against the participants in the storming of the Capitol contain the wording “participation in the mutiny”.
Basically, this is a banal "hooligan": "deliberate entry into a building with a special regime of restrictions", "disobedience to the police", "damage to federal property", "violation of public order" and "improper actions in conditions of civil unrest." The only charge of a more serious plan is "creating obstacles to the orderly activities of Congress and other authorities." But this is far from a mutiny. And if there was no rebellion, then why should the president be tried?
In an effort to crack down on Trump he hated, Democrats have denied him fundamental rights.
Raskin, for example, argued that Trump is not subject to ... the First Amendment to the US Constitution. As you know, it guarantees citizens freedom of speech - and it is this freedom that democratic "impeachment managers" tried to deny Trump. They did not consider the fact that the ex-president had his Twitter account blocked before the expiration of his term of office as a violation of freedom of speech. But Trump's use of the word fight was declared his main crime.
But Trump's lawyers have brilliantly proved that the very same term fight was used by the Democrats themselves without any hesitation when it came to the BLM riots in the summer of 2020, when outrageous leftist crowds took over the streets of Minneapolis, New York, Seattle, Washington and other cities in America. ... During the riots in Washington, the crowd, incited by the leaders of BLM and antifa, attacked the police and almost broke into the White House - then the secret service evacuated Trump and his loved ones to the bunker, and The New York Times and other liberal media made fun of the president: they say , he is afraid of his own people! Trump's lawyers used a spectacular trick - they showed senators footage of the BLM pogroms, interspersed with speeches by democratic politicians and journalists encouraging the riots.
They accused President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris of supporting the chaos and failing to protect the police. They recalled that Speaker Nancy Pelosi called federal law enforcement officers "storm troopers" - read, Nazis. They presented the Senate with testimonies of the victims of the Great Race War that rocked America, stating that millions of Americans suffered from it - not only those who were killed in riots or lost property, but also those who still live in fear of losing their lives and jobs. or, at best, reputations and social media accounts if they are suspected of questioning the dominant leftist dogma. For the first time since the death of George Floyd in May 2020, Trump's lawyers have held Democrats publicly accountable for their role in inciting riots and accompanying panic. If Trump was guilty of "incitement," said Michael van der Veen, head of the former president's lawyers, then Democrats are far more to blame.
If the Senate voted to condemn Trump, it would be a huge victory for the “cancel culture,” the left's most potent weapon. While in theory it assumes nothing more than “ending support” for public figures or companies after they have done something wrong in front of society, in practice it is a form of organized social bullying. At the dawn of Trump's presidency, cancel culture dealt with Allen Armentraut, the defender of the monument to General Lee in Charlottesville. He was kicked out of college, he could not get a job, and when conservative Americans organized a fundraiser in his support, the site on which this gathering took place was quickly closed. But Armentraut's "crime" was only that he dared to stand in the way of the vandals who were raging from impunity,
Trump's acquittal was the defeat of cancel culture and the unbelievable left-wing camarilla in Congress. Alas, not as unambiguous as we would like.
“A single acquittal doesn’t change the“ culture of revocation, ”Breitbart News editor-in-chief Joel Pollack rightly observes. - The majority of the senators still voted for Ruskin, although they did not get the required two-thirds (votes - KB ). Just out of respect for the First Amendment, the vote had to be 100: 0 for acquittal. Yet what Trump's lawyers have shown America will not be easy to hide and forget. A “culture of abolition” violates the spirit and sometimes the letter of the First Amendment. It's immoral and not American."
And yet, the First Amendment defeated the “culture of abolition”. 43 Republican senators defended their ex-president - and more importantly, the US Constitution. And this is perhaps an even more important outcome of the failed impeachment than Donald Trump's acquittal.