Acquittal: what did Trump's impeachment achieve?

The US Senate has acquitted ex-President Trump after only five days of impeachment proceedings. Although 57 out of 100 senators, including seven Republicans, voted for retroactive impeachment, this fell short of the requisite two-thirds majority for a conviction. Trump immediately announced his intention of making a comeback. Sharp criticism of the Republican Party can be heard from the press.

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Irish Independent (IE) /

Never was the gap so great

The Irish Independent is appalled that a clear majority of Republicans voted against Trump's conviction:

“House managers made their case to the country and for history. In doing so, the managers convicted 43 Republicans of disloyalty to the US Constitution and utter cowardice. ... We are reminded that the country has one functioning, pro-democracy party and another under the sway of the Maga mob and the instigator of a violent insurrection. Never has the gap between the parties been so great, nor the need for one side to prevail so essential to the survival of the republic.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Republicans need Trump

The acquittal exposes above all the moral bankruptcy of the Republicans, De Volkskrant concludes:

“What remains of the Republican party is political opportunism and a lack of backbone and integrity. Central tasks such as the defence of democracy and the rule of law have become secondary matters in a totally polarised political climate in which Republicans and Democrats see each other only as arch-enemies and any kind of cooperation in the interest of the country is ruled out. ... What is clear is that the Republican Party will no longer be able to get along without Trump unless the moderates are able to restore decency to conservatism. But that seems to be a vain hope.”

24 Chasa (BG) /

Still in the crosshairs of justice

Trump's tussle with the legal system is by no means over, notes 24 Chasa:

“The prosecutor in Georgia is already investigating him for attempting to pressure the authorities to commit election fraud. The district attorney's office in Manhattan is preparing tax fraud charges. And the attorney general in Washington has announced that he will charge Trump with inciting a riot. ... If this continues, Trump will soon be able to boast about having subpoenas from all 50 US states. The question is whether the Democrats want to keep pursuing him to the point where he becomes a populist martyr.”

De Morgen (BE) /

Fanatics alone won't be enough for a comeback

Despite his acquittal the ex-president has suffered major damage politically, De Morgen notes:

“Trump has taken a significant hit after all. Certainly with his former supporters in Washington. 'We have to acknowledge he let us down,' said Nikki Haley, former US ambassador to the UN. The ex-president also still faces several other lawsuits. ... The fanatical supporters won't care much, but if he wants to make a comeback Trump will also need the support of moderate voters. The Democrats are hoping they have done enough damage to the ex-president to prevent a new power grab.”

Der Spiegel (DE) /

Now it's up to Biden

Thanks to the Republican senators, Trump's re-election is now a distinct possibility, warns Roland Nelles, Der Spiegel's chief correspondent in Washington:

“The Trump cult remains a huge factor in US politics. A Senate conviction could have prevented a comeback in 2024. Now, however, that comeback is still possible. Joe Biden and his Democrats will have to work hard to save the country from a second term for Donald Trump. If they're successful in economic policy and the fight against Covid, Trump will have no chance of spreading his political poison in the next election. If they fail, we'll be in for another round of political madness.”

Novi list (HR) /

Trump is not the only threat

Even if the impeachment had been successful it wouldn't have changed much, Novi list speculates:

“The Democrats' goal of excluding Trump from political life is difficult to understand. Even if they had succeeded, it would not have prevented a new Trump from entering the American political scene. ... Even before he came along, in the last 20 years there have been Republican politicians and presidential candidates like Pat Buchanan who spoke like Trump. ... Like the other populists, Trump did not come about by chance. He is an expression of the growing resistance of Americans to globalisation and free markets, which resulted in the 'export' of American industry and jobs to China, Mexico, etc. The violence against Congress on January 6 was the culmination of this rebellion.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Congress alive and kicking

For the Financial Times the impeachment was a complete success for democracy:

“It has restored some of the republic's good name. From start to end, the action was swift, confounding expectations of a saga that would drain voters of patience and President Joe Biden of early momentum. Despite this speed, there was no shallowness, other than from Trump's hapless defence team. Nor was the process marred by another much-feared round of civil disturbances. As the new president stood wisely aloof, Congress, so enfeebled at times, was central to national life again. An assault on its bodily integrity has led to renewal of its role as a check on the executive.”