The second impeachment trial of former President Donald J. Trump ended in an acquittal on Feb. 13. The former president was not found guilty of “incitement of insurrection” in the riot in Capitol Hill.
The verdict was 57-43, with seven Republicans joining the Democrats in the final vote to convict. Despite the simple majority, 66 votes were needed to convict because of the Constitution’s requirement of a two-thirds majority.
Dr. Chase Porter, assistant professor of political science, said the trial was a legitimate use of congressional powers, but this time was used for show.
“Unfortunately, the trial was largely nothing more than political theater, in the sense that the conclusion was known before it began,” Porter said. “Neither side really desired an extended trial that would take a careful look at what happened on Jan. 6 and whatever role President Trump may have played in the events.”
The trial occurred over five consecutive days, with each side allowed 16 hours to present and argue their cases.
Darren Logan, adjunct professor of history and political science, said the trial showed the polarization of the country in unhealthy ways.
“I think it does say something about the character, personality and style of former President Trump; however, I think my greater concern is what it says about the state of our country,” Logan said. “Our ordered democratic federal republic really depends upon some core shared values on the most important things, coupled with a dynamic spirit of compromise on the rest of things upon which we do not necessarily agree.”
Logan said he felt conflicted about the trial because he felt there were legitimate arguments on both sides.
“On an emotional level, I found myself sympathizing with some arguments both for and against the trial,” Logan said. “For example, I can appreciate the desire to hold someone accountable for wrongs done in their official capacity even after they have left office. If not, what prevents a future leader from wrongdoing knowing they will be let off the hook once off the job? At the same time, it also seemed like impeachment, in this case, may have been used primarily as a political weapon by one party against another.”
Danielle Penn, freshman political science major, said she stands by the results of the trial.
“First and foremost, American democracy is essential,” Penn said. “As a political science major and one who wants to study law and one day represent this country politically, I have to stand firm that our justice system is sufficient. If trial and majority vote find Mr. Trump not guilty for impeachment, I stand behind my country’s choice.”
Trump was the first president to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives.