With his place in history being rewritten, President Donald Trump received the news of a second impeachment proceedings against him practically alone and in silence.
For more than four years, Trump has dominated the national discourse like no other president before him. Yet when his legacy was set in stone Wednesday, it remained surprisingly on the sidelines.
Trump’s situation is unmatched as he is the only president to be accused twice of a crime or serious misdemeanor, a new ending for a presidential term defined by increase division in the country, his failures during the worst pandemic in a century, and his refusal to accept defeat at the polls.
Trump stayed out of public view at a White House practically empty while impeachment proceedings were taking place in a heavily guarded Capitol. There, the damage from last week’s riots provided a visible reminder of the insurrection the president is accused of inciting.
Abandoned by some members of his own party, Trump couldn’t help but watch on tv how the story unfolded. The suspension of his Twitter account deprived Trump of its most powerful medium to keep Republicans aligned, creating a sense that Trump has lost his fangs and, for the first time, control your party adoptive.
Trump, in a short video asking supporters not to participate in further acts of violence. Photo: Bloomberg
He was finally heard from hours after the vote, in a video in which he condemned the insurrection in the Capitol and warned his supporters not to participate in new acts of violence. It was a message that was absent a week ago, when protesters marching on behalf of Trump arrived at the headquarters of Congress to try to avoid the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
“I want to be very clear. I strongly condemn the violence we saw last week,” Trump declared. He added that none of his “true” supporters “could ever condone the use of political violence.”
But that message, partially motivated to avoid legal action For inciting the riots, it was contradictory to what Trump had said throughout his tenure, including last week, when he urged his supporters to “fight” for him. He told protesters that he loved them and that they were special.
Trump, on Wednesday, did not say a single word about the impeachment in the video, although he did complain about the vetoes against him on social media.
With barely a week left in office, there were no belligerent messages from the White House to oppose the proceedings at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, nor was there an organized legal response.
Some Republican lawmakers defended the president during the impeachment debate in the House of Representatives, but at the end of the session, 10 Republicans joined Democrats to vote in favor of impeachment.
It was a stark contrast to the first impeachment proceedings against Trump. The December 2019 vote, in which Trump became just the third president in history to go to impeachment, was kept in party blocs. The charges on that occasion were that he had used the authority of his position to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rival and current president-elect, Joe Biden.
By Jonathan Lemire, Jill Colvin and Zeke Miller