Last night, President Joe Biden spoke about the impeachment trial of his predecessor, warning Americans that ‘democracy is fragile’. Though Former President Donald Trump was acquitted of inciting an insurrection, Joe Biden claims that the charge was ‘not in dispute’ and that the trial comes amid a ‘sad chapter in [America’s] history’.
Trump, who was not convicted after less than 2/3 of senators found him guilty, has called the impeachment proceedings a ‘witch hunt’. His lawyers made similar points during the trial, with lawyer Michael Van Der Veen claiming the trial was ‘politically motivated’, and labelling it ‘constitutional cancel culture’.
The Democrats’ case rested heavily on the phrase ‘fight like hell’, which Trump used during a controversial speech on 6th January. However, Trump lawyer David Schoen played an 11-minute montage of prominent Democrats including Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi using violent phrases and words, to highlight what he implied was hypocrisy.
About the trial, Biden said: ‘This sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile. That it must always be defended. That we must be ever vigilant. That violence and extremism has no place in America. And that each of us has a duty and responsibility as Americans, and especially as leaders, to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.’
Nancy Pelosi called Republicans who did not vote to convict Trump ‘cowardly’ in a highly emotional statement last night, after only 7 Republican senators broke with their party to vote to convict Trump, making the final vote tally 57-43. She also accused them of not voting to convict Trump because ‘maybe they can’t get another job’, implying that Republicans only refrained from finding Trump guilty because they were afraid they’d lose their seats if they did so.
Ted Cruz, however, fired back at Democrats. He reiterated a view long held by conservatives, saying that the trial ‘merely satisfied Democrats’ desire to once again vent their hatred of Donald Trump and their contempt for the tens of millions of Americans who voted for him’. Other Republicans defended the Former President’s acquittal too, with Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith saying in a news release ‘I believe the defense team proved conclusively that President Trump’s speech on January 6 neither implicitly nor explicitly encouraged the use of violence or lawless action’.
For Biden, Trump’s acquittal marks a new chapter in a Presidency which has only just begun. Although the White House has emphasised that it has been focusing on carrying out Biden’s agenda, the drama surrounding impeachment has been impossible to ignore, and has taken the spotlight away from the current president and put it back on his predecessor. Biden, although he would have liked Trump to be convicted, may now get the chance to carry on peacefully with his Presidency, and will have the opportunity to deliver the return to normal he promised on the campaign trail.