Donald Trump has become the first and only President to be impeached twice, but most of his enabling party refused to make him pay for inciting violent insurrection. The few GOP House members who did vote to impeach braved personal abuse and attacks from colleagues, and they risk losing top party posts and stirring primary campaigns the next time they seek reelection.
The House debate before Wednesday’s vote was a festival of hypocrisy, false moral equivalence and open lying as Trump’s supporters denied reality in his defense. Some who had spent months pretending that Joe Biden hadn’t won a free and fair election accused Democrats of fracturing national unity. Others warned that impeachment could spark violence, effectively validating the intimidation tactics of last week’s mob.
Several Republicans allowed that Trump was at fault but argued the impeachment was too rushed on principle; more painted the process as the act of left-wing Trump-haters desperate to “cancel” him in a fit of political corrrectness.
Now Trump’s fate is in the hands of the Senate — and more directly in those of another longtime enabler, Mitch McConnell. The Republican majority leader has finally broken with Trump by signaling he might vote to convict in an eventual Senate trial. If he does, other Republicans might join him to construct the two-thirds majority needed to convict. By then, Trump would be an ex-president — but he could be barred from running for office ever again.
It’s a long shot. But Wednesday’s unique second impeachment vote already ensures that for as long as the American republic survives, Trump’s name will be accompanied by a historic stain.