Former President Trump acquitted for second time

Alex Hopper, News Editor

Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial came to an end on Feb. 13, making him the only U.S. president to have been impeached and acquitted twice. 

The Senate trial began on Feb. 9, following the House’s vote in favor of impeachment. There was only one article of impeachment against Trump: incitement of insurrection. 

The democratic house managers made the case that the former president’s role in the recent insurrection attempt was pivotal due to his continual outcries of “the stolen election.”

They felt Trump had been priming his followers to mount an attack of this kind. 

They began by pushing the emotionality of the recent insurrection attempt on the Capitol that impacted many senators present during the trial. 

“Almost all of us were here on January 6th,” said Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett who aided in the oral arguments for the democratic managers. “We all have our own experiences. What we felt. What we saw.”

As evidence they showed footage from inside the capitol chambers during the insurrection, in which many senators were moved to safety just in time to avoid the mob. 

The video footage was detailed, creating a timeline of the events on Jan. 6. A diagram outlined the position of the insurrectionists in relation to the senators and representatives. 

“It wasn’t until I was preparing for this trial that I understood the effort to attack our seat of government,” said Plaskett. 

Panicked audio recordings from metropolitan police were played in addition to the video footage to further illustrate the threat level the democratic managers felt law enforcement were under. 

As testimony from insurrectionists, the democratic managers included social media videos and indictment transcripts that provided reasoning for their involvement. 

Jenna Ryan, a Texas real estate agent, explained she felt Trump urged her to join the insurrection. 

“I thought I was following my President. I thought I was following what we were called to do,” said Ryan.

Similarly, another insurrectionist Bruno Cua tweeted on Jan 6 saying that “President Trump is calling us to fight!”

The democratic managers continually pointed to contention between former Vice-President Mike Pence and Trump surrounding Pence’s decision to help confirm the election results. 

Social media video reaffirmed many insurrectionists were disappointed, some to the point of violence, in the former vice president.  

Social media video showed members of the mob chanting “hang Mike Pence” in front of a noose on the Capitol lawn. 

“[The Proud Boys] said that anyone they got their hands on they would have killed…they said they would have killed [Vice President] Mike Pence if given the chance.” read one criminal complaint. 

Lead Impeachment Manager, Jamie Raskin, centralized the democratic argument. 

“Is this America? That is the question that is before all of you in this trial,” said Raskin. 

“Can our country and our democracy ever be the same if we don’t hold accountable the person responsible for inciting the violent attack against our country?” said Raskin.

Trump’s defense was headed by Michael van der Veen. 

Van der Veen claimed that the democratic manager’s case relied too heavily on conjecture. 

“The democratic managers have come here with no evidence. the American people deserve a lot better than coming in here with no evidence,” he said. “Hearsay on top of hearsay.” 

Van der Veen also claimed the evidence presented within the trial was heavily doctored and not in line with the Constitution. 

“Their closing did not mention one piece of law. They didn’t talk about the Constitution once,” Van der Veen said. “They didn’t talk about due process and how it applies to this proceeding for my client.”

Within his defense, Van der Veen argued against the notion that former President Trump encouraged violence. He said that Trump instead encouraged his supporters to “exercise their rights peacefully and patriotically.” 

These are not the words of someone inciting a violent insurrection,” said Van der Veen. 

“His entire challenge to the election results was squarely focused on how the proper civic process could address any concerns to the established legal and constitutional system.”

The democratic house manager’s closing remarks focused on the inaction they believed Trump had in stopping the insurrection. 

“He could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence,” said Colorado representative Joe Neguse. “It was his duty as Commander-in-Chief…and he alone had that power.”

The end of the trial resulted in a 57-43 vote – falling 10 votes short of the two-thirds required by the Constitution to impeach. Seven Republican senators joined all Democratic and Independent senators voting to convict Trump. 

This was the largest bipartisan vote for an impeachment conviction ever for a U.S. president. 

Trump’s troubles are far from over despite his acquittal, as his actions may prove to be punishable in criminal charges. 

“President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office as an ordinary citizen,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell following the acquittal. “He didn’t get away with anything. Yet.”