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After the House of Representatives voted 232-197 to impeach the former President last month for his alleged role in the Capitol Riots, the Senate trials for Donald Trump’s second impeachment began on Tuesday, Feb. 9. This is an unprecedented consequence as no President, current or former, had two impeachment trials. The House of Representatives voted in favor of Trump’s impeachment; however, the Senate voted against impeachment during the first trial. Multiple news outlets predict that a Senate majority vote for the conviction is doubtful and will yield the same result as the previous trial. Seventeen Republican senators would have to join every Democrat to reach the majority.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate voted on the constitutionality of the impeachment trial itself. After about four hours, the resulting vote was 56-44 in favor of the trial’s constitutional legitimacy. This doesn’t say much about the trial’s actual results, as a constitutional trial and an impeachment conviction are very different prospects to Republican senators. The American people can hope that a finalized trial will be swift and cohesive no matter the result. There seems to be a clear interest in viewing this historical process as his second trial is receiving higher viewer ratings than the first.


american flag and sky
Photo by Paul Weaver from Unsplash

The trial itself is incredibly divided, with both sides using influential theory and evidence to present their arguments. House Democrats persecuting Trump emphasized common sense and impartiality in their statements, outlining how they believe Trump played a role in inciting the Capitol riots and violence in the past. They rested their case with a final, powerful plea that “If you don’t find this a high crime and misdemeanor today, you have set a new terrible standard for presidential misconduct in the United States of America,” from the New York Times. Trump’s lawyers instead plan to highlight the hypocrisy of blaming the former President for the riots because of his antagonistic language. They argue that Trump should not be held responsible for others’ actions, even if they were inspired by his words, citing times Democrats used combative language and were not held accountable for the consequences. They deny that Trump is responsible for the attack on the Capitol and that he had any intention to interfere with the election process.


Washington DC capitol building trump protest
Photo by Tyler Merbler distributed under a CC BY 2.0 license

The third day of the trial heard Democrats citing rioters’ words and motives in their argument against Trump. With the violent actions and seeming intentions from the riots, their evidence will conclude that the supporters of Trump and believers of election fraud intended to incite a violent conviction in Trump’s favor. Many rioters are heard in videos saying they were invited by Trump and told to “fight like hell.” Following the speech in which Trump encouraged his supporters to reject the election results, he reflected on his speech and concluded it was an appropriate response.

Trump’s impeachment trial is moving rapidly and is set to conclude after the weekend. On Friday, Feb. 12, Trump’s lawyers present their legal defense to the U.S. Senate, arguing against the former president’s responsibility for the Capitol riots in January. House Democrats remain concerned about Republican senators’ willingness to convict Trump, even following the assault they experienced in the riots. Their loyalty to Trump and the strength of democracy will be tested in this trial and hopefully resolved.

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Sienna Aitken is a senior Psychology and Criminology major at Florida State University
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