• February 9, 2023

Trump impeachment trial reignites GOP battle even as he is acquitted

WASHINGTON – Hours before The Senate Republicans have acquitted Donald Trump In his second impeachment proceedings, a member of the GOP House almost knocked if he had gone off course.

Senate Republicans had to beat back Democratic demands at the last minute to call witnesses to Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash.– who supported the impeachment – said GOP leader Kevin McCarthy said Trump asked for help when his supporters raided the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The call for testimony failed, but it wasn’t long before Herrera Beutler became a target of Trump’s supporters.

“The gift that is given to Democrats over and over … to see Trump’s loyal 75 million vote,” tweeted freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., A fierce Trump loyalist.

The back and forth underscored the internal struggle between Republicans between those who want to continue to follow Trump and those who believe the party must go beyond a shamed ex-president to win future elections.

More:Trump acquitted, confusion over witnesses: top takeaway from the final day of impeachment

A 57-43 Senate majority voted for Trump’s condemnation, but missed the two-thirds majority required for condemnation. Seven Republicans joined the 50 Democrats – more than expected. Last year, when Trump was acquitted for his dealings with Ukraine, only one Republican, Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, joined the Democrats in condemnation.

“Tribalism is a hell of a good drug, but our constitutional oath means we’re going to be sticking to the facts,” said Senator Ben Sasse, R-Neb.

And while Senate Minority Chairman Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Voted in favor of the acquittal, he made a searing statement in the Senate saying Trump was “practically and morally responsible” for the Jan. 6 uprising.

In a statement following the acquittal, Trump was not deterred and said his move “has only just started. “

“I have a lot to share with you in the months ahead, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people,” Trump said. “We have so much work to do and soon we will emerge with a vision for a bright, bright, and limitless American future.”

The consequences of Impeachment proceedings, which featured intense videos of the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, years of primary Republican fighting between pro-Trump and anti-Trump forces will split the party if it tries to take control of Congress and in 2022 To win back the White House in 2024.

More:How Donald Trump will be remembered after four turbulent years as president

More:Risky business: Donald Trump sees his political fate not only linked to his impeachment proceedings

“This impeachment vote will continue to tear the Republican Party apart,” said Lara Brown, director of the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University. Republicans call it a “big tent,” she said, but “unity is unlikely to be possible because there is no significant gray area” between Trump’s supporters and other Republicans.

“It seems that the party will be fighting for many months to come, which will not be resolved until the 2022 elections, the primaries and the general election,” she said. “And by determined, I mean that one faction will probably prevail over the other, but it’s hard to say what will win.”

Trump 2024? Other Republicans are also taking steps

Trump, who was silent during the Senate impeachment process, did not say so whether it will run again in 2024 but his acquittal leaves him free.

Republicans who think about their own presidential candidates – like Sens. Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul – didn’t even think about a conviction in the impeachment process. They voted against holding the trial, saying the Senate lacks constitutional authority to bring someone to justice who is no longer in office.

“This is a political impeachment,” Cruz tweeted during the trial.

Another potential Republican presidential candidate, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haleyseeks distance from the accused president.

Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations under Trump until 2018, told Politico that she expects Trump “will continue to be isolated” and does not think he will run for president again: “I think he has lost some kind. ” of political viability he would have. “

Still, other potential candidates have chosen to address Trump’s post-election complaints. Cruz and Hawley went so far as to object to the electoral college vote counting because Trump had baselessly protested that the election had been stolen from him.

Congress discussed this issue when the insurgents broke into the US Capitol on January 6th.

More:Chaos, Confusion, and Anger: What You Failed to See in the Senate

Rubio, who got into a series of brawls with Trump during the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, has also lobbied more recently. Rubio has also likely seen reports that Ivanka Trump – Trump’s daughter and former White House adviser who recently moved to Florida – could run for his Senate seat next year.

While Rubio had some disagreements with Trump, the Florida Senator said ahead of the impeachment process that it would be “arrogant” for opponents to request the ex-president’s disqualification from office.

However, Trump’s influence in the party at this point is not absolute. There is evidence that the insurrection, impeachment and trial – and the pictures of Trump supporters roaming the halls threatening lawmakers – are exhausting Republican support for Trump.

When the House voted in favor of Trump’s indictment in January, some Republicans saw the Senate trial as an opportunity to free themselves from the former president’s political influence. Ten House Republicans voted to indict Trump, more than his previous impeachment in 2020.

Still, Jennifer Mercieca, associate professor of communications at Texas A&M University said, “acquittal means it’s still Trump’s party, for better or for worse, and likely for bad.”

Mercieca, author of “Demagogue for the President: Donald Trump’s Rhetorical Genius,” said the trial gave Republicans the opportunity to “reject Trump and Trumpism.” Instead, she said, many party members hugged him, perhaps to the party’s long-term detriment.

The first next step: Trump and the 2022 elections

With impeachment behind him, Trump is expected to first test his strength among Republicans in upcoming congressional and state elections – including divisive Republican primaries.

Trump and his supporters have vowed to support major opponents against Republicans who backed the impeachment, particularly those in the House who voted in it.

That target list ranges from Rep. Liz Cheney, the House’s third-placed Republican, to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who both opposed Trump’s calls for the election results to be reversed.

More:The impeachment process puts Trump back in the spotlight. That might not be a good thing for him.

More:Donald Trump is unhappy with his legal team, allies say, but still confident he will be acquitted

However, challenging primaries do not always result in losses.

The Trump factor could hurt Republicans in general elections in states and congressional districts that are tightly divided between the GOP, Democrats and Independents.

Trump is “still the 800-pound gorilla within the GOP,” said Luntz, “but he has no support outside the party.” Republicans will need these types of voters to win enough races in the House and Senate to win Congress back.

And Republicans who oppose Trump are preparing to campaign for those who believe the party must deviate from the accused president.

MP Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., Who voted for impeachment and set up a new political action committee, told CNN: “I am not afraid of the president at all.”

Several unknowns could affect the future of Republicans

There are many months ahead of the 2022 congressional election and the 2024 presidential election. And several open questions could play a role in either election, including potentially more legal issues for Trump.

New York prosecutors are investigating Trump over past financial activity. The Atlanta Attorney’s Office investigates whether Trump broke the law by pressuring Raffensberger to “find” enough votes to reverse his loss of election to Biden in that state.

The former president will also be 78 years old in 2024, although Biden is that old now. Biden became the oldest president ever inaugurated when he took the oath in January.

House prosecutors ended their arguments on the third day of the historic second impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump.

During the impeachment process, House prosecutors said Trump’s non-responsibility could encourage him and his supporters to re-attack institutions, possibly in a future campaign.

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., Told senators he was “not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years”. More like “I’m afraid he’ll run and lose again,” said Lieu. “Because he can do that again.”

Another unknown is whether Trump supporters can find credible candidates to challenge Republicans who campaign for impeachment.

Republican strategist Alex Conant, who worked for Rubio’s presidential candidate in 2016, doubts Trump will have much of an impact in 2022 and beyond. Most voters, he said, will gradually withdraw from the ex-president.

“It will be some time before the party continues,” said Conant. “What happened on January 6th was really bad for the Republican brand. It will be some time before we recover.”

So far, Trump and his allies have had mixed records when it comes to hurting impeachable Republicans.

You failed her attempt to remove Cheney from her post as Chair of the House Republican Conference. But in the same session, Republicans refused to punish pro-Trump Rep. Taylor Greene, R-Ga.through their social media posts on conspiracy theories and threats to political opponents.

Given the prospect of divisive primaries, several political analysts noted that both Trump supporters and Trump opponents have debated the idea of ​​a third political party, a development that would divide the party further.

Jack Pitney, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in California, said most GOP voters still support Trump. “As long as Republican voters stay with Trump,” he said, “so will most Republican leaders.”

Pitney, author of Un-American: Donald J. Trump’s False Patriotism, illustrated the Republican problem by revising the lyrics of a Pete Seeger protest song about the Vietnam War.

“The party’s waist high in Big Muddy,” he said. “and the base says to carry on.”

Jack

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