Student Opinion: Trump’s Second Impeachment Trial Commences, Solutions Leave Much to be Desired

(The New York Times)

By Jacob Vito

There have only ever been three presidents in the history of the United States that have been impeached. It’s a rare sign given to presidents who have, in some way, significantly failed the country. However, an additional caveat was added to such a list: for the first time in American history––a president has been impeached twice. 

Following an assertion of its constitutionality in the legislature this week, the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump has begun. As CNN reports, the initial 56-44 vote led to the beginning of the impeachment trial process, with both sides fielding arguments and a final Senate vote in the days to come.  

According to the Washington Post, such a trial responded to Trump’s spreading of misinformation and violence over the recent months. This includes his dismissal of the results of the 2020 election and his encouragement of the Capitol insurrection in January. 

Notably, the trial’s focus lies in how Trump has attempted to use misinformation to further his own political ambition and potentially overturn Biden’s victory in November. However, it is critical to understand the most likely outcomes of such a trial.

Make no mistake: Trump will not be impeached from this. The Democratic Party barely has a majority in the Senate, and it would require over a dozen Republicans to betray their own organization and vote to serve a conviction. There is no world in which Mitch McConnell ever lets that happen. 

Because of that fact, the outcomes of this trial are inherently limited. However, that still leaves a fundamental question open: why is this seriously taking place?

Some have argued that the impeachment will stop a potential second term from him. Frankly, Trump will never hold office again regardless of whether or not he is impeached. The man is already 74, and with what seems to be less-than-great health, he may not even be fit to campaign come next election season. 

Such factors are also combined with his legacy as one of the most divisive presidents in history. This will not allow his potential voters the same cautious optimism they had when he won in 2016. He is a known entity, and he is not well-liked. 

What’s more, the potential impact of this is minimal. Though the New York Times may argue that an impeachment trial may serve as a blow to Trump’s accountability and legacy, the first impeachment the former president went through did not seem to impede his agenda nor change peoples’ minds about him. Why would an additional failed impeachment attempt be any different?

Not to mention, those who supported Trump’s insurrection attempt will receive no punishment from this trial. Regardless of whether or not he was the president, a single person claiming a rigged election does not mean much. 

What gave Trump’s claims power were the many Republican legislators who corroborated his falsified statements and spread further misinformation. Without seeking some way to punish them, Congress gravely misunderstands the reasons why this event grew to the magnitude it did. 

So, with the identifiable causes for this attempted impeachment conviction being either pointless, unlikely or ineffective, precisely what purpose does another impeachment trial serve? 

In short, it is politically useful for Donald Trump to remain a relevant enemy. 

It’s tough to make a political movement that is “for” something in America. Holding such positions requires creating a distinct vision that historically doesn’t garner a broad base of support. Instead, it’s far simpler to make a campaign that is simply a reaction to the government that came before it.

Donald Trump, for one, made use of such a tactic. The crux of his “Make America Great Again” position was that the former Obama administration had let America become weak and that such a de-emphasis of American hegemony should be reverted.

And come 2020, the Biden team did something similar. Trump offered an enemy that could be clearly attacked for a Democratic Party fracturing between its progressive and moderate wings. When the alternative was an additional term of the Trump administration, many people saw a compromise candidate like Biden as comparatively palatable. 

However, after Biden’s victory, a challenge has had the danger of presenting itself: according to Pew Research, most people voted for Biden simply because he wasn’t Trump. Though that may have successfully propelled him into power, it also means many who voted for him don’t genuinely support his positions. 

Such a situation can be perilous for a President. Campaign rhetoric and presidential policy often differ, but the smaller number of Biden voters who supported his policies could lead him to become an unpopular president when implementing his agenda.

However, if you continue to make Trump a threat even beyond his removal from power, Biden doesn’t have to run into that issue. 

Don’t get me wrong, the danger of Trump’s underlying movement is still real, but the Democratic Party has not yet signaled that they will address that. The largest contributors to the Capitol insurrection were the spread of rampant misinformation online, the local police’s complicity in the riot and the Congress members that encouraged such things to happen.

Yet, those things are not being addressed. Though Trump’s Twitter accounts may have been banned, countless other avenues for far-right rhetoric still fester in social media. In cities like Washington D.C., initial promises to both defund and reimagine law enforcement have fizzled out. Many of those who publicly spread election lies and encouraged violence, such as Senator Ted Cruz, have faced no real punishment for their crimes. 

If the U.S. government genuinely wanted to confront the issues that led to such a violent event, it could. However, it has failed to address those while continuing forward with an impeachment trial that will leave no tangible impact on the damage the Trump administration made. 

Because of all that, this can only be seen as a political move. This is a realization that Trump’s brand of American dysfunction was engaging but useful in creating opposition movements. This is a performance of justice that will not stop another act of fascist terror from happening again. This is another failed impeachment conviction that will change nothing and hold no one accountable. 

For the first time in years, the Democratic Party has total power in the Federal Government. However, they must commit to actually dealing with the root causes of an American division and stop engaging in legislative action they know they will fail and recognize these actions for what they are: political theater, and nothing more. 

Jacob Vito is a first-year Community and Regional Development major at UC Davis. He is from western Pennsylvania.


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21 Comments

  1. Ron Oertel

    It has completed “commencing”.

    However, they must commit to actually dealing with the root causes of an American division and stop engaging in legislative action they know they will fail and recognize these actions for what they are: political theater, and nothing more.

    In contrast, I’ve been told that I’m supposed to be outraged – every night on the news.

      1. Ron Oertel

        Or – vice-versa, under a third term for Bill Clinton?  🙂

        Seems to me that recalls and impeachments are being implemented more freely, these days. No one seems willing to wait until the next election, to make their case.

        And in this particular case, it looked pretty stupid to be pursuing this after Trump left office.

        I have yet to see any arguments regarding what “incite” actually means, legally. And yet, that was the entire case.

        1. Keith Olsen

          If what Trump had stated was to be considered actual incitement then there are several Democrats who should be up on charges also.  Trump’s lawyers very astutely pointed that out yesterday during their presentation.

        2. Ron Oertel

          I did see that, regarding use of the word “fight”.

          I also saw where Trump used the word “peaceful”, in regard to what he expected of his supporters.  (Of course, he also used a lot of other words.)  🙂

          My take on the whole thing is that he did not purposefully encourage his supporters to take over the Capitol, but I’m still not sure what constitutes “incite” (legally) in a situation like that. And strangely, I did not see this defined.

        3. Bill Marshall

           No one seems willing to wait until the next election, to make their case.

          From the view of Trump and his ardent supporters, no point… the election was rigged, Trump really won in a landslide, and so we just terrorize or kill those trying to lie and certify the results!  The conspiracy went all the way up to the Vice President!  Traitors all!

          Yeah, right…

        4. Ron Oertel

          Oddly, I think that Trump actually does believe that.

          That’s how I view his comments regarding the need to “find” more votes, in one of those states.  (You cannot “find” votes, if they don’t exist.)

          I do wonder what would have happened, had some of those folks caught Pence (and his “nuclear football”), let alone Pelosi.

  2. Ron Oertel

    Makes me wonder if Nixon would have resigned, in the current environment.

    And yet, that seemed (at the time) to be an enormous political scandal.  Seems somewhat less that way now, in perspective (though I’m still not sure exactly what he did).

  3. Bill Marshall

    but I’m still not sure what constitutes “incite” (legally) in a situation like that. And strangely, I did not see this defined.

    Just like it is hard to define pornography (legally)… but I know both when I see it.  We saw it on Jan 6…. many sources… they could not have all been part of a “deep state” conspiracy.

  4. Chris Griffith

    I think we saw the deep state conspiracy during the impeachment trial.

    Uncle Biden is going to have to step up his game his term in office is going to be real boring we need to bring more excitement to politics I truly believe the Democrats loved Trump🤗

     

    1. Bill Marshall

      I think we saw the deep state conspiracy during the impeachment trial.

      Yes, we did… 43 Senators, many of them, after 2 previous votes to the contrary, decided they could judge whether a trial after a prez leaves office is constitutional or not… a form of ‘jury nullification’.  [reminds me of the murder trial of OJ…]

      The prez sought to nullify the votes by the electorate… many of 43 in the Senate appear to pre-nullify anything SCOTUS might have to say about contitutionality.

      Two precendents have been set… an out-going president is immune from anything done after failing to retain office… the “January exception”… [at least he didn’t order a nuclear strike!]

      A minority of the Senate trumps (pun intended) SCOTUS, as to determining ‘constitutionality’.

      Good luck to the country now that those precedents haves been set.

  5. Chris Griffith

    Now since we got the little orange guy out of the way.

    I for one can’t wait until Biden does his state of the union speech I’m looking forward to what he has to say and one of the subjects I really hope he brings up is one that was mentioned yesterday on the Davis Vanguard and it is a important issue too the Mexicans made tampons illegal because they’re made of plastic and I think Uncle Biden needs to follow suit and if anything   he needs to put a CRV value on those little puppies. Can you imagine those little things floating around in the ocean 😲

  6. Bill Marshall

    Not as a matter of law… we’ll have to see what the ‘court of public opinion’ has to say… at this point, I kinda’ like the idea of him being the Republican nominee in 4 years… should be a slam dunk for a Democrat or Independent nominee…

    Perhaps what has been the pattern for Republicans in CA will be as contagious as the new strains of Covid… third largest registrations…

    If the Republicans have any sense (?-able), Sasse will be their candidate in 2024… might well vote for him, over the likely Democratic choices… he’s conservative, from the mid-west, well spoken, and a great sense of humor… time will tell…

    Besides, now that the impeachment process has ended, as a ‘regular citizen’, it may well be that the Donald will be convicted of one or more felonies, and may be “doing time”… after all, Al Capone’s only real conviction was on “tax charges”… not boot-legging, murder for hire, etc.

  7. Ron Oertel

    In the “old days” on the Vanguard, there’d be heated, nearly-endless arguments about this type of thing by this point. Of which I’d be a semi-amused bystander. (No – not in the “stand down, stand by” mode.)

    What happened? 🙂

  8. Bill Marshall

    … three presidents in the history of the United States that have been impeached. It’s a rare sign given to presidents who have, in some way, significantly failed the country.

    Right… failing to be more punitive of the former Confederate states… some personal financial faux pas’, and a blow job from an intern… Trump’s first impeachment was a liitle more serious, but this one was HUGE… he was lucky that he wasn’t tried before he left office… that gave ‘cover’ to Republican senators to acquit on a highly questionable belief that the trial was unconstitutional, because the trial (not the impeachment) occured after he left office…

    One can argue that for all intents and purposes, Nixon faced articles of impeachment, was advised that they would be passed, and he didn’t have a snowball’s chance in a Senate trial.  So he resigned…

    And got Ford to pardon him… Trump burned that bridge by the way he spoke about Pence…

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