On Meet the Press this morning, Jamie Raskin noted that "there’s no reasoning with people who basically are, you know, acting like members of a religious cult and when they leave office should be selling flowers at Dulles Airport." One of his team members, newly discovered Democratic star Stacey Plaskett, was on MSNBC, noting that winning the case wasn't about witnesses-- "What we needed," she said on MSNBC today, "was not more witnesses, but more Senators with spines." Even before Raskin and his team made their brilliant and utterly compelling impeachment case, a plurality of American voters favored conviction-- 47-42%.
Raskin is correct that the trial was a "dramatic success in historical terms" and in terms of the voting public. He told Chuck Todd that "We successfully prosecuted him and convicted him in the court of public opinion and the court of history... He’s obviously a major political problem for the Republican Party, and as long as he’s out there attempting to wage war on American constitutional democracy, he’s a problem for all of us."
Saturday evening, David Axelrod clarified for CNN that there was never a doubt that "Trump would escape conviction in his latest impeachment trial. The 'jurors' were, after all, politicians. And in a 50-50 Senate, the constitutional bar of 67 votes was never achievable. Not in these bitterly polarized times... As in the House, a handful of Republicans senators had the courage to place country over tribe and vote to hold the former president accountable. They did so with eyes wide open. They had seen what happened to Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney and nine other Republicans in the House who voted for impeachment. They put themselves at similar risk of primary challenges and, at a minimum, a lot of grief. The rest of the Republicans fell in line as expected. They knew that the brooding, defeated president was watching and taking names, just as he was on January 6-- ready to unleash the fury of his still-loyal base on anyone who dared to step out of line."
Though he avoided sanction, the trial imposed a more enduring penalty on him by laying bare for the world and history his craven role in orchestrating the seditious mayhem at the Capitol.
In a few riveting days, the House managers shined a light on Trump's central role in the tragic events of January 6, relying heavily on his own incendiary words over months, not just on that day. Ironically, Trump was betrayed by his favorite tools, Twitter and video.
And so Trump goes down in history as the only president to have been impeached twice, with both cases involving nefarious schemes... He was spared today. But this trial has ensured that Donald Trump won't escape the verdict of history.
This morning, former Obama ethics chief Norm Eisen and former Homeland Security official Katherine Reisner went a bit further for USA Today readers: the trial provided valuable evidence for possible prosecutions. "The fact that Trump’s team agreed to enter evidence of Trump's conversation with McCarthy into the trial record," they wrote, "will inform possible future and civil criminal proceedings turning on Trump’s intent and so his culpability. Just this week we learned new details of a criminal investigation into Trump’s efforts to foster his Big Lie in Georgia, including his infamous request to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to 'find 11,780 votes.' This is an apparent violation of Georgia criminal law, including for soliciting election fraud. Saturday's stipulation on the Herrera Beutler statement and every other piece of evidence in the trial will be important to the Georgia investigation and other possible criminal and civil accountability measures pursued by states and the federal government. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell highlighted that in his extraordinary remarks after the vote encouraging civil and criminal scrutiny of Trump’s acts. The House impeachment managers have made the case for Trump’s culpability and preserved a mountain of evidence for future actions. Now the push for accountability continues."
Georgia (election tampering) and New York (financial crimes) have already begun criminal cases against Trump, basically 2 in each state. The Supreme Court is thoroughly involved with the NY case, which is looking like it will probably lead to indictments of Trump and family members by the end of the year. Maybe McConnell could be on the prosecution team. Saturday, Jonathan Chait noted that though, for example, Thom Tillis voted to acquit, his shameless cop-out was that "The ultimate accountability is through our criminal justice system where political passions are checked. No president is above the law or immune from criminal prosecution, and that includes former president Trump."
Chait wrote that "There’s no reason to believe the investigations are getting better for Trump, and plenty of reason to believe they can get worse." And not just in the NY and Georgia cases. "Trump’s role in inciting the riot," he wrote, "or refusing to take action to halt it once underway, could also be the subject of criminal investigation. There’s no known probe of this matter, which would require a Department of Justice that is no longer controlled by his lackey, Bill Barr. Testimony could easily produce more incriminating evidence that Trump not only incited a mob but refused entreaties by fellow Republicans to call a halt to it, instead using the violent pressure to force them to participate in his scheme to overturn the election... Republicans in Congress may not want to anger their base by voting openly to disqualify Trump from office. But they very obviously wish for Trump to be disqualified by somebody else. The pointed gestures toward the courts by McConnell and his allies are a clear signal that those judges shouldn’t extend to Trump any special protection... Republicans are going out of their way to tell the courts that they don’t see Trump as a member of their team. Will nobody rid them of this turbulent Florida man?"