The Gatepost Editorial: Protect your country, not your seat

Last weekend, America watched as former President Donald J. Trump was acquitted on the charge of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the nation’s Capitol. 

Senate Democrats were unable to convince the 17 senators needed for a two-thirds majority needed to convict. Only 57 senators – including only seven Republicans – voted to convict the former president.

Despite an overwhelming amount of evidence and personal testimony from the lawmakers who were in the Capitol that day, 43 senators – all Republican – still voted to acquit the former president on the charge of inciting an insurrection.

What is particularly disturbing is that several minutes after voting to acquit former President Trump, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “There’s no question – none – that President Trump is practically, and morally, responsible for provoking the events of the day.”

McConnell, despite voting to acquit Trump, still admits that he was responsible. The utter hypocrisy shown in the five seconds it took McConnell to say that in his speech not only speaks to his character, but to the cowardice of 42 other Senate Republicans.

These Senate Republicans displayed a skewed view of what their job as elected officials represents. 

While they may argue that the Constitution does not give the House the power to impeach a president who is no longer in office, that mindset has the potential to set a very dangerous precedent for the future of the country. 

Not only that, but Trump was still the sitting President on Jan. 6, and should have been held responsible for his role in the events of that day.

As Maryland Congressman and Lead House Impeachment Manager Jamie Raskin warned in his opening testimony for the prosecution, a Trump acquittal would have serious consequences for the Constitution itself.

Raskin said, “Conduct that would be a high crime and misdemeanor in your first year as president and your second year as president and your third year as president and for the vast majority of your fourth year as president you can suddenly do in your last few weeks in office without facing any constitutional accountability at all. This would create a brand new January exception to the Constitution of the United States of America.”

Rep. Raskin even went as far as to say a Trump acquittal would open the door for a January exception for all future presidents and that it would be “an invitation to our founders’ worst nightmare.”

If Senate Republicans are so protective over the words of the Constitution, why did they help a former president let such a dangerous precedent come from his acquittal?

While McConnell acknowledged Trump can still be held criminally liable for his part in the insurrection of Jan 6, why did he, along with 42 Republican senators, refuse to hold him accountable in their positions as lawmakers?

If a President is impeached – and convicted – of a high-crime and misdemeanor, they are taken out of office. The Constitution says nothing of an outgoing president not being allowed to be impeached and disqualified from holding public office in the future. 

All senators, regardless of party, take the same oath of office: “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

If McConnell truly believes Trump is responsible for the events that threatened the foundation of our country, Trump is therefore a domestic enemy.

Forty-three senators neglected to fulfill their oath by not holding the former President accountable.

Forty-three senators need to be held accountable for the precedent they helped create following the second Trump impeachment.

Forty-three senators need to realize their job is to protect their constituents and the Constitution of the United States of America – not help an insurrectionist toward a potential 2024 presidential bid.