Former US President Donald Trump unsurprisingly avoided conviction on the charge of “incitement of insurrection”, not because he was innocent, but because Republican senators chose party over country. In fact, Trump’s defence did not even make a serious effort to dispute the charges against him and instead chose to dispute the legitimacy of the case. They did so ‘successfully’, but only because the fix was in before the case even started. Officially, the Republicans claimed to have voted against conviction due to a technicality — that Trump could not be tried by the Senate after leaving office. This is both false and misleading. Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives while he was still president, and the then-Republican-led Senate refused to hear the case until Trump had left office. In addition, the Senate has previously tried a person who was no longer part of the government — former Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876. Meanwhile, the official Congressional Research Service also found no legal reason for the Senate to not impeach a former president.
The Republicans hid behind a false technicality to protect the man who remains the face of their party from being convicted of a crime that stops just a step short of treason. Also, remember that Republicans and Democrats alike referred to the Capitol siege as a “terrorist attack”. If Trump was convicted, he could legally be referred to as the leader of a successful “terrorist attack” on the US Capitol — something even Osama Bin Laden failed to do. The face of the Republican Party would officially be a terrorist leader. But just because Trump can’t legally be given that title — yet — it is still clear that he is the politician favoured by a majority of US citizen terrorists. Even today, death threats are being directed at Republicans who broke from their party and chose to impeach or convict in the House and Senate, respectively. On a lesser level, some were admonished by their Republican constituents for saying they voted based on facts rather than party affiliation. These are the people the Republican party is pandering to when they chose Trump over the United States.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2021.