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“I solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws. So help me God,” pledged 100 senators on Tuesday. On Saturday, seven Republicans upheld their oath, joining Democrats and correctly voting to convict Trump of “inciting violence against the Government of the United States,” in the words of the article of impeachment.
Fifty-seven was 10 shy of a guilty verdict, which means he escapes conviction and disqualification from future office. But after the persuasive presentation, it is clear beyond any doubt he is not innocent. He is guilty of breaking his oath, and the pliant Republican senators are guilty of breaking theirs.
When Republicans Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, Bill Cassidy, Pat Toomey and Richard Burr voted to convict, they made the second Trump impeachment the most bipartisan in American history, validating that the facts overwhelmingly proved that the ex-president tried to pressure a state election official to overturn a certified count, then turned a rabid mob against the Congress as they counted electoral votes.
Their leader, Mitch McConnell, gave Trump a pass and then had the gall to take to the floor to tear into Trump for stoking the mob. The man who looks like a turtle sounded just like a weasel. It was McConnell himself who decided, when he was majority leader in the days after Jan. 6, that the Senate would not meet to try Trump. Saturday, he used that very delay as an excuse to let the perp off the hook. He plays us for fools.
The day’s drama over calling witnesses was but a sideshow. The jurors were the witnesses and victims. They had to flee for their lives, along with the vice president, as Trump’s goons chanted “Hang Mike Pence” in the marble halls, waving hateful banners of secession, insurrection and racism. It was their chamber that was invaded and occupied. Their historic desks, used by generations of their predecessors, rifled through by vandals. It was their police officers who gave their lives.
They know how long Trump took to say or do anything to calm the insurrection. They know that, even when he did speak, it was mealy-mouthed and insincere.
Tomorrow is Presidents’ Day, when all the holders of this highest office are honored. But to mention Trump, the lowest character, in the same sentence as Washington and Lincoln pains. The Senate should have separated him. Only Trump used the office to reject a free and fair election result, and then attack the government.
We close with the ending of Washington’s very short Second Inaugural: “That if it shall be found during my administration of the Government I have in any instance violated willingly or knowingly the injunctions thereof, I may (besides incurring constitutional punishment) be subject to the upbraidings of all who are now witnesses of the present solemn ceremony.”
Trump has evaded constitutional punishment. Let the upbraidings begin.