Opinion | Trump’s acquittal changes nothing — vote him out


Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS

President Trump holds up a newspaper with the headline that reads “ACQUITTED” at the 68th annual National Prayer Breakfast.

By Paige Lawler, Senior Staff Columnist

It is a fairly well known fact that on Wednesday, Feb. 5, President Donald Trump was acquitted of his impeachment charges.

While his acquittal was certainly a disappointment — both for me personally and for liberals and anti-Trump people everywhere — it was not exactly a surprise. The public had suspected Trump would be acquitted from the start of his impeachment investigation due to the Republican-controlled Senate — the GOP holding 53 seats in the Senate compared to the Democrats’ 45 — and the fact that 67 votes would be required to convict Trump.

While the acquittal is perhaps not an earth-shattering event, and America can certainly manage through the end of Trump’s term — we’ve made it this far, at least — we absolutely cannot let him secure a second term. It is vital that, in the wake of Trump’s acquittal, Americans stick together and vote him out of office in the 2020 general election.

President Donald Trump was impeached in the House of Representatives on Dec. 18, 2019. The articles of impeachment charged him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, and were passed by a vote that was almost strictly partisan.

The partisan voting continued through the impeachment trial, with Republicans finally acquitting Trump of both charges in a vote that was split cleanly down the party line, save for a singular vote. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, was the sole Republican who voted to convict Trump, specifically on the charge of abuse of power.

While there was convincing evidence to support both of the charges against Trump, several Republicans stated they would not remove him from office because they didn’t think it would be in the best interest of the American people. This is somewhat understandable — convicting and impeaching Trump might have caused more political turmoil than it would have been worth. However, it worries me that politicians can justify ignoring actual evidence of crimes in favor of maintaining continuity and order in political offices.

Something that is infinitely more worrisome than this, however, is the fear-based influence Trump may hold over GOP members. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, suspects fear may have played a large role in the vote to acquit Trump, speculating that “fear is the motivator. They are afraid that Mr. Trump might give them a nickname like ‘Low Energy Jeb’ and ‘Lyin’ Ted,’ or that he might tweet about their disloyalty.” This line of thought is equally worrying — if not more so — than the idea that senators were voting solely along the party line, or ignoring evidence and refusing witnesses in an impeachment trial.

It seems ridiculous that politicians would be afraid to vote for what they may feel is the right thing for fear of being ostracized or otherwise alienated by the president. This leads me to believe that Trump is ultimately unfit to remain in office — though I was never really behind his position in the first place.

Another unsettling aspect of the impeachment trial was Trump’s response to it. Impeachment is a serious process and one that should indicate that a politician has done something gravely wrong. Historically — though there have only been two previously impeached and acquitted presidents — the responses of the impeached have been largely remorseful. For example, after his acquittal from charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, Bill Clinton gave a short speech in which he apologized to the American people for his actions and urged the country to move toward “reconciliation and renewal.”

While Clinton and Trump were impeached for vastly different offenses, in both cases their actions fundamentally reflected a failure to serve the American people. While Clinton showed an appropriate sense of respect and regret upon his acquittal, Trump’s response was quite the opposite. In lieu of an apology, Trump gave an hour long speech in which he claimed “[he] did nothing wrong” and said of the impeachment proceedings, “I don’t know that other presidents would be able to take it.”

Even after his acquittal, Trump owes Americans an apology simply because enough evidence was gathered to launch an impeachment trial and sustain impeachment proceedings. If he had truly done nothing wrong as he claims, there likely would not have been evidence or a list of witnesses to testify. The absence of Trump’s apology demonstrates an almost appalling sense of apathy and should leave Americans seriously considering whether or not he should be elected for a second term.

While Trump certainly has a large following and is almost assured the Republican nomination — considering that there is only one candidate running against him — it would be dangerous and irresponsible for America to re-elect him in the 2020 general election. After seeing a strong demonstration of partisan unity on the part of the GOP, as well as the ability to rise above a clearly suboptimal situation, it is time for Democratic voters — or all voters who disagree with Trump’s politics and views — to rally behind the candidate who secures the Democratic ticket. It is vital that we do not allow Trump to remain in office for a second term.

Paige Lawler writes primarily about environmental policy and politics for The Pitt News. Write to her at [email protected]