The Senate will begin the second impeachment trial against Donald Trump, the former president, on Tuesday. Democrats say the process is crucial in punishing Mr. Trump for the January 6 riot at the Capitol, but it seems more likely that he will do the opposite by acquitting him. It also looks like an unnecessary partisan exercise that will further polarize America’s political factions.
As we have said several times, Mr Trump’s actions on that day and after the November elections were a shame. He made false claims about a stolen election and, later, the cancellation of the electoral college number. He has also misled his followers about Vice President Mike Pence’s sole ceremonial role in leading the vote.
By rallying supporters to march on the Capitol in the false hope of overturning the election result and then refusing for hours to ask them to resign, Mr Trump tolerated an attack on a constitutional branch of government. Republicans who think this is incontestable behavior will not receive criticism from us.
However, the House impeachers do not limit themselves to this charge. In their single and sloppy impeachment article, they accuse Mr. Trump of “inciting insurrection”. This is a stretch, not least because Mr. Trump asked the demonstrators to be “peaceful”. The property managers only mention this in passing in their process report. It is doubtful that Mr Trump’s January 6 statements would qualify as incitement under the Criminal Code.
The attack on the Capitol was a riot and a violent one, but it was not a “riot.” It wasn’t a coup. Law enforcement was overwhelmed, but it was all on the side of Congress. Once the mob broke up, members returned to the chamber of the house to count the votes. There was never a chance Joe Biden wouldn’t become president on January 20th, regardless of the fantasies of Mr. Trump and his courtiers.