By Ariel Steinsaltz
The Senate voted to acquit former President Donald Trump on Saturday, Feb. 13 in his impeachment trial for inciting the riot in the Capitol on Jan. 6. This acquittal cemented Trump’s hold on the Republican Party, according to The Guardian.
Many critics were worried about the precedent the acquittal set: a president could potentially lie about election results and incite a violent insurrection, and still not be held accountable by Congress. The acquittal has been critiqued as condoning threats to democracy, according to the Guardian.
The trial was not viewed by many people, and Trump supporters in particular did not watch it in significant numbers, meaning that the evidence that “was devastating to Trump’s reputation” likely did not harm the way his supporters thought of him, according to The Guardian. This raises the question of whether the now-acquitted Trump will run for president again in 2024.
Many Republican Senators and educated observers believe that Trump’s future political career is over, and that the trial has ended any chance of him becoming the Republican nominee in 2024. This is exacerbated by the fact that Trump is facing court cases and business troubles, and that he will be 78 years old by the next election, according to the Guardian.
However, Trump has made comments in the past suggesting that he may be planning to run again, and would like the drama of a comeback. A poll found that a majority of Republicans want him to be the party’s nominee in 2024. Democrats are taking the threat seriously, according to the Guardian.
Trump’s former campaign manager, Brad Parscale, said that the impeachment would make Trump even more popular with his base and encouraged him to run again as a martyr. 42% of Republicans said they would vote for him in 2024, The Independent reported.
Following the acquittal, Trump is planning to re-enter the public sphere and assert his power, said the Business Standard. However, this will be difficult without his social media presence, as he was banned from Twitter. While Trump remains popular among his base, he is no longer in the good graces of some GOP politicians.
Trump is expected to begin speaking to the media again, as well as working to help Republicans take back the House and Senate in 2022. He is still thinking about revenge against Republican politicians who came out against him, according to Business Standard.
However, Trump is still facing challenges, most notably in the form of several legal battles. Georgia has opened up a case against the former president related to his attempts to influence the election with a call to the Secretary of State. In New York, Trump faces more than one case related to financial misconduct. Although Sen. Mitch McConnell voted to acquit the former president, he stressed that Trump should be held accountable in civil or criminal court, according to Business Standard.
One of the most significant legal challenges Trump now faces is from Bennie Thompson, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, who has teamed up with the NAACP to sue Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 riot. Thompson and the NAACP accused Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers organizations of conspiring to cause the attack, according to CBS News.
The suit said that the riot at the Capitol “was the intended and foreseeable culmination of a carefully coordinated campaign to interfere with the legal process required to confirm the tally of votes cast in the Electoral College,” according to USA Today.
The lawsuit draws on the 1871 Ku Klux Klan act, which makes it illegal for people to conspire to prevent anyone holding office from carrying out their duties. NAACP President Derrick Johnson said that the act was intended to protect members of Congress and American democracy, and says the Jan. 6 riot fits why the legislation was passed, according to CBS News.
Thompson believes the lawsuit will bring Trump down, saying, “Donald Trump has to go away. If he doesn’t, we will put him out of business,” according to CBS News. He said that the evidence presented by the House during the impeachment trial justifies the lawsuit, and Johnsson said that that a court of law will not acquit Trump the way the Senate did because it is not based on partisanship.
The intention of the lawsuit is to gain an unspecified amount of money and to get a judge to rule that the actions undertaken by Trump, Giuliani, and far-right hate groups were a violation of federal law, according to NBC News.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also announced that the House would have an independent commission looking into the events of the Capitol riot, according to Business Standard. The commission will be looking into the facts about the insurrection and what caused it, and has bipartisan support. Spending on security at the Capitol will also be increased.
With the impeachment over, Congress is focusing on the security failures that allowed the violent insurrection to take place. Sen. Chris Murphy said that they could not move on, that they had to prepare for future mobs. Panels are looking into intelligence failures, and Speaker Pelosi stressed that the security of the Capitol and members of Congress was a priority, according to ABC News.
“Security is the order of the day,” she said in a letter. “The security of our country, the security of our Capitol which is the temple of our democracy, and the security of our members.”