The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday March 4th

Column: What Trump's impeachment trial means

A cardboard cutout of president Donald Trump is propped up on the podium during the NCGOP election night watch party on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.
Buy Photos A cardboard cutout of president Donald Trump is propped up on the podium during the NCGOP election night watch party on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

Former President Donald Trump was acquitted over the weekend. Despite threatening violence from the campaign trail to the White House, the U.S. Senate voted 57-43 to convict, falling 10 votes short of the necessary 67. 

Even though he has now been acquitted of impeachment twice, questions remain regarding  accountability for his actions and the actions of those who voted to acquit him after he incited the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

North Carolina’s U.S. senators played a key role in Trump’s second impeachment. Both Republicans should’ve been wary of the increasingly purple state, since the way they vote at the end of the impeachment trial could significantly impact voter turnout and priorities in the upcoming elections.

Sen. Richard Burr was quick to blame Trump for the Capitol insurrection, saying that the president should shoulder responsibility for what he has caused. However, Burr has consistently opposed the impeachment process, believing it to be the incorrect forum to try the former president. 

Despite these complaints from Burr, the senator voted to convict Trump of impeachment. Burr will not be running for reelection, and his term expires in 2022 — this seat will likely flip blue, as Tillis’ would have in 2020 if Cunningham could have kept it in his pants.

Sen. Thom Tillis questioned the validity of the impeachment process in the House, which made it very unlikely that he would cross party lines to convict Trump. Now, after voting against both the constitutionality of impeachment and convicting Trump, Tillis will face reelection in 2026. 

Whatever the next scandal is for the senator, Democrats might find it pretty easy to flip North Carolina completely in the Senate — at least, as long as Democrats can find a candidate that won’t have a terrible gaff every time you turn on the television.

In the rest of the Senate, the Democrats were united on convicting Trump of the charges leveled against him. No Democratic senators broke from party lines for this vote, while party-loyal Republicans have held that the impeachment proceedings themselves are unconstitutional, and the trial did little to sway them to convict. 

These senators, like usual, will probably be reelected, because there are no term limits. Not to mention they have enough money to fly their private jet to every airport in their state while disregarding the cost.

Republicans who broke from the party and voted to convict included U.S. Sens. Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, Susan Collins, Bill Cassidy, Lisa Murkowski and Pat Toomey. These individuals deviated from the party and originally voted that the impeachment proceedings were constitutional. 

Burr was the lone vote swayed, also voting to convict. If convicted, the Senate could have moved to disqualify Trump from federal office with a simple majority. 

Trump should have been held accountable for his actions while in office. Hiding behind the cover of private citizenship would set a terrible precedent for actions a president can commit during their final weeks in office. 

By convicting Trump, the GOP could have prevented him from seeking federal office again, cutting him off from another presidential run. This would have allowed the GOP to backtrack on many of Trump’s desires and stand firm against the Trump-like partisans among them. 

Holding Trump responsible in some form, impeachment or not, is the best course of action for the Republican Party and the nation, allowing both to heal after the damage he did. 

@LeserJacobson

opinion@dailytarheel.com

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