On Feb. 13, the Senate acquitted former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial. The charges were inciting the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The final vote was 57-43, meaning that seven Republican senators voted to find the former president guilty. Ten more votes were needed to convict Trump, as the Constitution requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate in order to do so.
This Senate trial was very controversial because it was the first time in history that a president was impeached twice and had his impeachment trial held after his presidency ended. It was a quick trial, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was one of the many Republicans to vote not guilty but still criticize the former president’s actions.
“The Senate’s decision today does not condone anything that happened on or before that terrible day,” McConnell said during a speech he delivered after the final vote. “It simply shows that senators did what the former President failed to do. We put our constitutional duty first.”
The Samford Crimson gathered opinions from the Samford Democrats and the Samford Republicans student organizations about their stances on the acquittal.
The Samford Republicans believe that it was unconstitutional to impeach and convict a former president and that the trial created a dangerous precedent.
“We believe that while our former president could have acted at a higher standard,” Samford Republicans Representative Tim Cleveland said, “No action he committed should have equaled an impeachment or punishable offense.”
On the other hand, the Samford Democrats believe that since the impeachment by the House occurred while former President Trump was still in office, the trial held thereafter was constitutional.
“He committed an offense against his oath of office while he was in office. He was impeached by the House while he was in office. Therefore, according to the constitution, there should have been, and there was, a Senate trial,” Samford Democrats President Tristian Mullen said. “To say that Trump should have gone scot-free because his term expired is a logical fallacy.”
Samford students also spoke with the Samford Crimson staff and gave their opinions.
“I found it disappointing that enough Republicans didn’t vote to convict. However, I can’t blame those who thought Trump was guilty but the process was unconstitutional,” junior Yorgo Sarris said. “I think (the Senate had the right to hold the trial). The American Constitution was written in the context of the unwritten British Constitution, and Britain did impeach and convict non-office holders.”
Other students believed the impeachment trial was a way for Democrats to stop Trump from running for office again.
“Personally, it was pretty obvious the impeachment was more about taking away his benefits and keeping him from potentially running for president and being divisive again,” junior Joshua Taylor said. “While it’s highly unusual, (the senators) were certainly working within the powers given to them by our checks and balances system.”
Others look at the bipartisan agreement within the trial that occurred as hope for the future.
“President Trump was not a private citizen when he had committed his alleged crime,” freshman Jada Hunter said. “This was the most bipartisan impeachment vote in history. In that way, I think the process of healing has begun. Further, Joe Biden has always been hailed a bipartisan politician. His efforts to bridge the gap along with his relationships (…) will be extremely helpful.”
The Senate has plans to get right back to work post-impeachment and pass bills concerning economic relief — in the form of the American Rescue Plan Bill— as well as bills dealing with climate change in light of the winter storms occurring all across the country and particularly in the South.
Megan Rose is a staff writer for the Samford Crimson. She is a sophomore political science and english double major student.