As of Wednesday, Donald J. Trump has become the only U.S. president to be impeached twice. Trump was impeached the first time for abuse of power and obstruction of congress. This time, he has been impeached for an “incitement of insurrection” following a riot that took place in the Capitol on January 6th. Only two other presidents have ever been impeached, both of whom were acquitted. Andrew Johnson, who was charged with breaching the Tenure of Office Act, and Bill Clinton. Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached by the House.
Was this impeachment deserved? Two hundred and thirty-two members of the House seem to think so, including ten Republican House members. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), one of the ten Republican House members in support of the impeachment stated, “The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing…There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution” (Read the full statement here).
Since the election results were certified, Trump has been telling his supporters that the election was fraudulent and unconstitutional. A few highlights, all taken from his, now suspended, Twitter account, are as follows:
“Big news coming out of Pennsylvania. Very big illegal ballot drop that cannot be accounted for. Rigged Election!” (Dec 21st 2020 – 7:24:59 AM EST)
“MOST CORRUPT ELECTION IN U.S. HISTORY!” (Dec 13th 2020 – 10:36:46 AM EST)
“WE HAVE JUST BEGUN TO FIGHT!!!” (Dec 12th 2020 – 8:47:30 AM EST)
You can access and read for yourself others at an archive of Trump’s tweets. These are just three tweets taken from his Twitter from over a nine day period. There has been no evidence of voter fraud on a wide enough scale to overturn the results of the election, as said by former Attorney General William Barr, “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election.”
This rhetoric has led to an increase of distrust in the electoral process amongst the Republican party; many feel that this election was unfair and unjustly benefitted President-Elect Joseph R. Biden. According to some polling, as many as seventy-percent of Republicans believe the election was rigged, contrary to the ninety-percent of Democrats who believe it was fair. If you have been active on social media or keeping up with the news, or even interacting with family members, you have most likely heard this sentiment expressed. These feelings culminated in a riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6th, which claimed the lives of five people.
Despite unfounded claims that ANTIFA was behind the insurrection attempt, it remains true that Trump supporters were the ones responsible for the violence that took place. It was the President’s supporters, including members of white nationalist groups, that stormed the Capitol. Prior to the violence, Trump gave a speech at a rally, where he doubled down on his claims of election fraud and unconstitutional electoral processes. To the attendees, he said, “We will not let them silence your voices. We’re not going to let it happen, I’m not going to let it happen.” (You can read a full transcript of his speech here).
It is a fair conclusion to come to that Pres. Trump is directly responsible for what took place. For months he has sowed the seeds doubt and hatred in the minds of his supporters and it finally reached its boiling point. His words do not exist in a vacuum, there are real consequences to pushing a deceitful narrative to millions of people.
What will come of this impeachment? Potentially nothing, and likely nothing of worth. Regardless of what the Senate votes to do, Trump will still go down in history as the only U.S. president, as of now, to be impeached for a second time.