Unsurprisingly on Feb. 13, 2021, the Senate voted to acquit former President Donald J. Trump on the impeachment charge of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol.
The vote to convict fell short of the two-thirds supermajority that the Constitution requires, only reaching 57 votes, 50 Democrats, including two Independents that caucus with Democrats, and seven Republicans.
Throughout the second impeachment trial, the House Impeachment Managers pointedly delivered an emotional and fact-based case against the former president, laying out the undeniable truth that Trump actively sought to sow doubt about the 2020 presidential election.
Trump perpetuated the lie that the election was stolen from him and fostered anger amongst his most fervent and potentially violent supporters. Knowing that he was out of options, he rallied his supporters on Jan. 6 and directed them to the Capitol, knowing full well that the situation could get violent.
Trump incited an insurrection against the Capitol, against democracy.
As I listened to both sides state their case, I considered the long-term implications of what an acquittal could mean for the country, and honestly, I was scared. After 44 Republicans voted against the constitutionality of convicting a former president, it was clear that those Republicans cared more about their political futures than the fragility of our Constitution.
In their view, a president could commit a myriad of crimes on their last day in office and avoid any accountability.
Just like Jan. 6, Feb. 13 will live in infamy because the U.S. Senate failed in its duty. Senate Republicans were unable to set aside their partisan ways to unite against a president who would rather see his own country burn than to admit defeat.
To those 43 Republicans who voted to acquit, I say this: You cannot have it both ways. You cannot condemn the violence if you do not condemn the man who incited it. You cannot claim to love this country and its Constitution if you refuse to protect and defend it. You cannot call upon the Founding Fathers’ wisdom if you refuse to use it in your judgment against the tyrant that sought to overthrow the will of the people.
And to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, you cannot stand on the hallowed Senate floor and say, “There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it,” after you literally voted to acquit him. Mitch McConnell, you cannot have it both ways. You failed our country.