(CNN) — After a brief surprise Saturday morning, when it appeared that the second unprecedented impeachment of the expresidente Donald Trump might present witnesses And lasting perhaps weeks, the senators supported the idea of settling things and soon voted to acquit the former president.
The vote was 43 not guilty to 57 guilty, less than the 67 votes needed to convict him. Trump was then cleared of incite a crowd unbridled to attack the Capitol on January 6, an episode that interrupted the final vote count of the Electoral College that sealed the victory of Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
Here are six takeaways from Trump’s landmark trial:
Democrats let Trump go
House Democrats forced Trump’s second impeachment trial, making a compelling case that he incited an attack on Capitol Hill and driving a wedge between Republicans willing to look the other way to those who hated Trump’s behavior.
On Saturday morning, after CNN’s Jamie Gangel reported shocking new details about Trump’s behavior on January 6, Democrats found themselves on the cusp of demanding true accountability. They were joined by five Republicans in an effort to call witnesses, especially the representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, the Washington Republican who has been instrumental in denouncing the counterfactual assertion by Trump’s defense team that the former president opposed the agitators rather than encouraged them.
Finding enough Republicans to convict Trump would still be a high bar, and Democrats would have had to offer Republicans the opportunity to call their own witness. But instead of going ahead and exploiting the opening, Democrats decided to enter a written statement from Herrera Beutler on the record, allowing impeachment to continue toward Trump’s expected acquittal.
Finishing the trial will help Biden get down to business. But it will leave Americans who hoped Trump could be locked out of future political office wondering what it would have been like if Democrats had been a little more ruthless in their protection of the Constitution.
The Republican Party is still Trump’s party
Trump once joked that I could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose voters. (Subsequently, his lawyers filed a claim in court that, as president, Trump could not be charged for doing that either.) Turns out, he could also send an unbridled mob down Pennsylvania Avenue to attack the US Capitol with the vice president himself inside, and most Republican senators would support him.
Seven Republican senators voted that Trump was guilty of incitement, but a majority of Republicans argued that the trial itself was unconstitutional because Trump was no longer president, saying the fact prevailed over any evidence presented during the trial.
In moments of frustration with the Republican Party, Trump reflected on starting his own political party, but it doesn’t seem like it’s necessary. When his lawyers fabricated a alternate reality calling for peace as rioters ransacked the Capitol, Republicans who were among the mob’s targets clung to the life preserver. The fact that they could see a video of the evacuation of Mike Pence and the near encounter of the Utah Senator Mitt Romney With the agitators coupled with Trump’s words before the riot and then voting to acquit him, it is just the latest evidence that Trump’s dominance over the party is far from diminishing.
Trump without Twitter is a much calmer force
A pianist who cannot play, a soprano who cannot sing and Trump without Twitter share the silence. He has not been heard from directly since he retired into a kind of self-imposed post-election exile at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.
So, one of the discordant elements of the trial was hearing his voice again in hours of video played by the Chamber’s impeachment prosecutors to present their case. Trump may still have Republican lawmakers in check, but it’s much more difficult for the public to know, moment by moment, what he is thinking.
That’s an interesting prospect for American politics going forward. Marching orders during impeachment are easy. Absolve! But Trump must have been frustrated, fuming privately and dying to get his thoughts out in the open during this trial. We are left to wonder what they were – or wait to read it in the newspapers or here at cnn.com– instead of seeing them appear on our phones every so often.
Republican women are profiles of bravery
Profiles of Courage – with a nod to the book that the then Sen. John F. Kennedy wrote about former Senate colleagues – here it means being willing to stand up to the party and oppose the convention. Politicians are more interesting when they defend something that is difficult to defend.
It should not go unnoticed that among the key Republicans who stood up to Trump were several key women. Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney saw her status as the No. 3 Republican in the House threatened when she voted to impeach Trump. Herrera Beutler, who also voted in favor of impeachment, issued a statement in which he rejected his attorneys’ defense as completely incorrect.
Among Republican lawmakers willing to vote to convict, moderate Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska were among those who lined up with Romney and Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska.
Mitch McConnell is not a profile of bravery
Compare Cheney’s actions and statements with those of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. It was clear to reporters in January that McConnell thought this impeachment should go ahead. He spoke out against the Trump-inspired insurrection in the Senate. But when it came to saying that the proceedings against a former president were constitutional, McConnell voted against it. When it came time to punish the former president who unleashed an attack on the institution McConnell loves, told his colleagues that he would vote in favor of acquittal.
After voting for acquittal, he offered a shocking rebuke of Trump’s behavior during a Senate speech, dismissing Trump’s conspiracy theories and blaming Trump for the unrest. But he argued that it was inappropriate to vote for impeachment because Trump was no longer in office, essentially trying to get it both ways on a technicality.
This is not the end of the story
Trump’s acquittal will not be the end of his responsibility for the unrest his words helped cause or his attempts to overturn the election. There are hundreds of cases pending for the agitators, and their cases have begun to weave their words into arguments.
Take the case of Jessica Watkins, the oath keeper who federal prosecutors said in court documents this week was waiting for Trump’s order before marching on Capitol Hill.
Georgia prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into Trump’s effort to influence the election results.
None of those cases, even if they lead to convictions, could bar Trump from a future charge like impeachment. But they will surely keep the riots in the public eye.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism