Acquitted! Donald Trump can savor his victory(Florida). After an express impeachment trial, spiced up by a double last-minute twist, the Senate ruled that the former president was not responsible for the murderous attack on the Capitol on January 6.
Only seven Republican senators found him guilty of “inciting insurgency”. However, it took two thirds of the votes, and therefore seventeen Republicans, for the verdict to be reversed and prevent Donald Trump from running again. The Democrats’ main fear now is not that he is aiming for a new presidential term in 2024. But although he presents himself, that he loses and that he again sows chaos and violence through loyal activists desperate to support it. Because Donald Trump has not expressed the slightest remorse.
Our article on the debate this Saturday:
An alibi trial?
The verdict is not surprising. This is the second time that Donald Trump has been cleared of an impeachment trial, a first in the history of the United States. From the outset, the likelihood of seventeen Republican senators turning their backs on their leader seemed very low. Despite the cracks that have appeared in the Republican wall and the hesitations, played or sincere, of some.
So, did you attend a purely alibi trial? The two parties have agreed on one point: their desire to go fast. Republicans were in a hurry to turn the page on an embarrassing trial, which highlights their divisions. While Democrats didn’t want the hearings to overshadow President Joe Biden’s priorities and agenda.
The twist that occurred on Saturday is also indicative of this situation. The prosecution obtained the hearing of witnesses, which threatened to prolong the trial by several hours, days or even weeks. At the start of the hearing, Jamie Raskin, the leader of the team leading the prosecution, asked to be able to hear a Republican elected representative of the House of Representatives, Jaime Herrera Beutler, “at least an hour by Zoom”.
“Angrier than you”
It was she who on Friday disclosed the contents of the phone call between Kevin McCarthy, the leader of the House Republicans, and Donald Trump on January 6. While Kevin McCarthy alerted the president to the seriousness of the attack in progress on Capitol Hill and asked him to react, Donald Trump would have sided with the rioters. “Well, Kevin, I imagine these people are angrier than you about the election,” he reportedly replied. However, Kevin McCarthy did not vote in favor of his impeachment. CNN was the first media to release the information.
As soon as the Democratic request was filed, Michael van der Veen, one of Donald Trump’s three lawyers, aggressively protested against this request, threatening to call many witnesses in turn, which could have considerably prolonged the trial. . The Senate nevertheless ruled in favor of hearing witnesses, by 55 votes to 45, in a certain confusion. Lindsey Graham, a faithful of Donald Trump, for example created the surprise by asking to change his vote from “no” to “yes”. Finally, after a one hour break, both sides decided to give it up. The deposition of the elected Republican was read in session and entered into the file.
As for Mitch McConnell, the president of the Republicans in the Senate, who has distanced himself from Donald Trump and even accused him in recent weeks of having “provoked” the riots, he let his peers know in writing a few hours more sooner than he would pay it off. According to several media, he mentions a “difficult decision” in a message to his parliamentary group. As soon as this confirmation was known, it became more and more obvious that the verdict would not make the shadow of a fold.
During this trial carried out at a rapid pace, the indictment team made up of nine elected members of the House of Representatives was pugnacious and precise. She spread her argument over two days – she had sixteen hours in total – including broadcasting new audio and video documents of the events of January 6, which demonstrated how the attack could have turned out even more deadly. Some attackers wanted to “hang” Vice President Mike Pence, others “shoot in the head” Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives. It was not long before members of Congress, in panic and chaos, came face to face with angry and armed Trumpists.
One of the prosecution’s interventions, with video and audio clips
Democrats have focused on Donald Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric cultivated for months, to fuel the anger of his supporters. Already before the election, he had warned that he could not lose without it being “rigged”. Then, since the victory of Democrat Joe Biden, he has not ceased to denounce “massive fraud” and “theft of the ballot”, without the slightest proof, and despite the decisions of the courts which rejected the Republicans’ appeals. Until that disastrous January 6. Donald Trump is the “chief instigator of a dangerous insurgency”, which committed “the worst violation of the presidential oath in the history of the United States”, insist the Democrats. If he had been overwhelmed by events, he should have called for an immediate end to the violence. He did not do it.
Strong emotional charge
“Fight like devils!”, “Stop the flight!”, “You will never take back our country by being weak!”: During these last days, these words of Donald Trump have resounded in the hemicycle, on the scene even from the assault. With elected officials at the same time judges, jurors and victims, the trial had a strong emotional charge. Democratic prosecutors failed to hide their tears as they recalled the events.
Defense: “to fight” is not a republican word
But for Donald Trump’s lawyers, the trial was irrelevant. Their main line of defense was to note that it was “unconstitutional”, their client no longer being president. However, he was indicted by the House of Representatives on January 13 while he was still in power. Tuesday, on the first day of the hearings, the vote on the constitutionality of the trial has already demonstrated the balance of power: only six Republicans lined up behind the Democrats to vote yes.
Then, the defense, which rejects any responsibility for Donald Trump in the events, argued that political speeches were protected by the First Amendment which guarantees freedom of expression. The lawyers emerged from the footage. Or rather a long clip with extracts from speeches by Democrats calling for “combat”, to “fight”. To demonstrate that they are using the same rhetoric as that accused of Donald Trump.
Of “political revenge”
They only pleaded for three hours, aware that the stakes were already drawn. “Unfair” trial, act of “political revenge”, “monstrous lie”: the lawyers have cornered the Democrats, accusing them of only seeking “to further divide America”. They do not deny the violence that took place on January 6. But blame them on “criminals”, without the slightest connection to Donald Trump.
The lawyers have not had it easy. There were tensions within the defense team, as well as dissatisfaction expressed by Donald Trump on the first day of the trial. It must be said that they were called at the last minute: the five lawyers who were initially supposed to defend the former president decided to let him go at the last moment. But Bruce Castor, David Schoen and Michael van der Veen were able to count on senators very close to Donald Trump to help them refine their arguments.