The ex-president’s boast he could get away with murder proved true.
Back in January 2016, before Donald Trump won his first presidential primary, before he secured his position atop the Republican Party and before he won the White House, he mused about the unbreakable bond between himself and his supporters with a joke about murder.
“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” Trump said, to a laughing audience, while pointing his finger at them like a gun. “OK? It’s, like, incredible.”
What was once true of his supporters is now true of nearly the entire Republican Party. The Senate voted 57 to 43 on Saturday to convict Trump, now an ex-president, of inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as part of his plan to overturn an election he lost.
Just seven Republicans joined all 50 Democrats and independents to vote to convict, despite a mountain of evidence presented by the House impeachment managers. It was short of the 67 votes needed to convict.
Trump stood in the middle of Washington, D.C., pointed his supporters at Congress and fired. Seven people ― three police officers, including two by suicide, and four Trump supporters ― died as a result of the president’s actions. And his party let him off the hook.
Trump’s first impeachment acquittal, over his attempt to bribe a foreign president with congressionally approved funds to interfere in the 2020 election on his behalf, revealed that the Constitution’s impeachment power was broken beyond repair due to the asymmetric polarization of the political parties. His second impeachment acquittal shows the Republican Party no longer places limits on the actions it will excuse.
The Republican Party remains fully under Trump’s thumb. Just 10 Republicans in the House voted to impeach Trump and seven in the Senate voted to convict after he aimed his supporters at the Capitol and they sacked it, screaming bloody murder for Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others.
“I hope ― I trust we could all agree that if the president incites a violent insurrection against our government that that’s impeachable conduct,” Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), one of the House impeachment managers, said during the trial.