WASHINGTON – A lawsuit against Donald Trump is over again.
The election in 2020?
Not so much.
The November competition was not close – Joe Biden won it by more than 7 million votes – but its aftermath and the losing candidate continue to cast a shadow over American politics in general and the Republican Party in particular.
Although a majority in the Senate voted to convict Trump of inciting an uprising, one that led to last month’s deadly attack on the Capitol, the former president on Saturday avoided the two-thirds majority required for persuasion by having the support of a solid majority of Republican senators. Free to run for the White House again, he immediately threw the lawsuit as just another biased scandal and a unifying cry for his supporters.
Since election day, Trump has been defeated for re-election, presided over by his party’s loss of the Senate and achieved the unwelcome historic distinction of facing the Constitution’s most serious reprimand for the second time.
Although he has been damaged, the period in which he can be ignored by the political world, from Republicans to the new Democratic president, has not yet arrived.
As the vote in the Senate was coming to an end, Trump issued a written statement it signaled that he had no plans to leave the public stage. He condemned the trial as “another phase of the largest witch hunt in the history of our country” and then promised: “Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to make America great again has only just begun.”
He survived after deploying the most Trumpian of defense. His legal team listed complaints, attacked opponents such as cheating and hypocrites and made allegations that they were at times in conflict with the facts. During the tense and sometimes angry trial, Defense attorney Michael van der Veen declined to answer when Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., asked if he thought Trump had won the election.
Trump’s acquittal “is bad for democracy,” said political scientist Susan Stokes, director of the University of Chicago’s Center for Democracy. “What it says is that you can get a president and a leader of a larger political party to construct from the whole cloth what is happening in an election that goes completely against reality, and make cynical party leaders not to be unfavorable. or even (to) support this fabrication and make many voters believe it – and without consequences. “
‘Only just started’:Donald Trump thanks Republicans from Senate for second acquittal
‘A burden’ for the beginning of Biden
Trump has never acknowledged that Biden defeated him fairly, the conclusion reached by state election officials and federal law enforcement agencies from Trump’s own administration. His insistence that the election was nevertheless “rigged” against him, nevertheless continues with a considerable swing: In a USA TODAY / Suffolk Poll after the January 6 attack, more than seven out of 10 Republicans said Biden was not legally elected.
It complicates the new president’s efforts to cultivate support across the aisle, giving GOP lawmakers some biased incentive to work with him. Stokes called it “a burden at the beginning of his presidency.”
“Republican members of Congress and senators, their actions basically come directly from what they hear from their constituents,” said Republican strategist Doug Heye, a veteran of Capitol Hill. “Their voters still support overwhelming Trump, and they are high.”
Among these voters, skepticism about Biden’s legitimacy could ruin his position to command the bullying pulpit, even on matters that should be impartial – the president’s appeal to Americans to wear face masks to limit the spread of COVID-19, for example.
“Donald Trump has poisoned the well by convincing a majority of Republicans that Joe Biden is not a legitimate president, just as he spent five years arguing against Barack Obama,” said Bill Press, an influential Democrat and former president of California. Democratic Party. “But there’s nothing Biden can do about it other than do his job.”
For Democrats, Trump’s acquittal was not a complete defeat, the Press said. Their goal “was not only to accuse Donald Trump, but to tar the Republican Party forever with the violent invasion of the Capitol on January 6,” he said.
In the White House, Biden has done his best to ignore Trump and instead focused on organizing his administration and pushing for his legislative priorities. He has refused to answer reporters’ questions about whether, if he were still a senator, he would have voted to convict his predecessor.
Late Saturday night, Biden issued a statement urging Americans and their leaders “to defend the truth and defeat lies.” He said, “That is how we end this civil war and heal the very soul of our nations.”
Ignoring the elephant in the show?
Ignoring Trump is a more difficult strategy to follow for Republicans.
All 50 Democratic senators and seven Republican senators voted for the indictment article, far more dual-party support than in any of the country’s three previous indictments, including Trump’s first trial a little more than a year ago. Yet it was 10 votes below the 67 needed for conviction.
The senators who clung to the former president generally did not defend his behavior in the leadership and the reaction to the violation of the Capitol. In a blistering critique from the Senate floor after the vote, Republican leader Mitch McConnell called Trump “practically and morally responsible” for the January 6 uprising, saying he was guilty of “a shameful, shameful neglect. ”
But McConnell and most others who voted against the conviction cited their belief that the Senate had no jurisdiction to prosecute a president who had already left office.
The procedural argument meant they could avoid making a direct and explicit interruption with Trump, who might invite his anger and provoke a Republican primary challenge along the way. It is noteworthy that two of seven Republicans from the Senate who voted for the conviction had already announced that they were withdrawing from politics. Only one, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, can be re-elected next year.
“There is a desire from some of the management to turn the corner and move on,” Heye said. “But it is part of the party. It is not the whole party. And it is not the voters who are left” after an emigration of many moderates and suburbs in the 2018 and 2020 elections.
Trump’s continued influence is rare. In modern times, no defeated presidential candidate, including the two other presidents who lost bids in the second term, has continued to be a dominant voice in their party after his or her loss.
House Democratic prosecutors argued that the most serious consequence of Trump’s acquittal was the possibility that his refusal to accept the result of a Democratic election could serve as a model for him or another candidate along the way.
“If it is acceptable to lie about the results of an election, if it is permissible to incite a mob against the government whose encouragement of political violence becomes the norm, it will be open season, open season for our democracy,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. DN .Y., Warned on the Senate floor moments after the vote was announced. “And everything will be ready to come from the one who has the biggest clubs, the sharpest spears, the most powerful cannons.”
By acquitting Trump, he said: “Republican senators have not only risked, but potentially invited the same danger that had just visited us.”
‘Tribalism is a hell of a drug’:Trial against Trump resumes GOP battle lines even though he is acquitted
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