On February 6, 2020, US President Donald Trump declares his victory, a day after his acquittal by the US Senate on his two articles of impeachment. Trump takes a victory lap on February 6, 2020, celebrating this accomplishment and in a diatribe against his political opponents.
The House of Representatives had impeached Trump on December for abuse of power and obstruction of the Congress. The acquittal took place after a two-week trial conducted by Republican-controlled Senate, not including any witnesses.
Trump declared in a public statement from the White House, “We went through hell, unfairly. We did nothing wrong. It was evil, it was corrupt.”
He triumphantly walked into the East Room occupied by Republican members of Congress, cabinet members, and other supporters, accompanied with ‘Hail the Chief’ as background music.
Flourishing a copy of The Washington Post with the banner headline, “Trump Acquitted”, Trump defiantly said, “I’ve done things wrong in my life, I will admit… but this is what the end result is”. “Now we have that gorgeous word. I never thought it would sound so good. It’s called ‘total acquittal'”, he exclaimed with pride.
The House of Representatives had voted for his impeachment as he pressurised Ukraine for investigating former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential rival in the 2020 presidential election.
The founders of the United States included this process of removing a president from his office if they were found guilty of abusing and misusing their powers. A president can be removed from his office due to “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Former President Gerald Ford, while in Congress had said, “An impeachable offence is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.”
No president in American history has been removed directly via impeachment: President Richard Nixon resigned before he could be removed; the House had impeached Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, respectively while they were serving their Presidential tenure; but the Senate did not convict them. If Trump had been removed, then Vice President Mike Pence would assume power in Trump’s place for the remaining of his term, ending on January 20, 2021.
However, Trump’s post-acquittal celebration was a sharp contrast to Bill Clinton’s sombre apology to the citizens in 1999 following his acquittal, “I want to say again to the American people how profoundly sorry I am for what I said and did to trigger these events and the great burden they have imposed on the Congress and on the American people”.
While Trump says that his address was neither a speech nor a press conference, it was “nothing” but a “celebration”.
The source reports, “It was certainly about 62 minutes long and veered wildly between self-congratulation, via self-justification, to self-pity with a smattering of bilious expletives and insults to describe his political opponents en route. It was both a lap of honour and an emotional rollercoaster; all played out in front of his Republican flock, the nation and the world. One moment the president was railing against liars, leakers and “dirty cops”; the next we were into an anecdote about a wrestling team from Penn State University…But don’t expect this president to put this one behind him – it’s far too valuable an electoral stick with which to beat his rivals right up to polling day.”
“It was all bullshit. This should never happen to another president ever”, said Trump describing the justice department inquiry to find out if his 2016 election campaign had colluded with the Kremlin.
He called his legal team to be “warriors”, expressed his gratitude towards his congressional supporters, told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, “You did a fantastic job”, extended his apology towards his family “for having them go through a phony, rotten deal by some very evil and sick people”.
Trump directed harsh words towards his critics, FBI leaders, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, the only GOP senator who voted for Tump’s conviction, saying that Romney “used religion as a crutch,” and “things can happen when you fail so badly when running for president,” which referred to Romney’s loss to Barack Obama in the 2012 election.
“I don’t like people that use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong. Nor do I like people that say ‘I pray for you’ when they know that’s not so”, Trump had declared previously.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom Trump had targeted in his prayer speech, retaliated while saying, “He’s impeached forever, no matter what he says or whatever headlines he wants to carry around, and he is “never getting rid of that scar.”
Trump seemed confident that he is having the Republican Party’s loyalty before the November White House election. His acquittal may also pose problems for the Democratic Party in the future as it has left Trump in an apparently stronger position.
The acquittal has also paved the way for Trump’s first expected visit to India as President on February 24. It would be one of the rare solo bilateral visits amidst the political turmoil in both nations which is supposed to have “unlimited potential” in New Delhi-Washington ties.
It is yet to see what happens in the upcoming days of this post-acquittal period.