President Trump’s Acquittal

By Mattias Gariepy

Impeachment trials are supposed to last at least a week or longer, however, Trump was acquitted only five days into his trial. After Trump was acquitted, people were wondering how and why his charges were resolved so quickly. 

This article will help explain what being acquitted means, why Trump was acquitted, what happens now that he is acquitted, and how students are dealing with this situation.

What does being acquitted mean?

An acquittal occurs when a person is found not guilty, either by a judge or jury, of all charges they are on trial for. Once acquitted, they are free to go and cannot be tried again for the same offenses. For purposes of an impeachment trial, this means that the politician can remain in office and/or run for political office again.

There have only been four presidential impeachment trials in the United States, involving three different presidents, with two of these trials involving former President Trump. All three presidents were acquitted of their charges, allowing them to run for office again in the future and/or continue as president if they were already in office.

Why was Trump acquitted?

Former President Donald Trump was acquitted on February 13th, 2021, after a five-day trial, making him the first president to be impeached and acquitted twice in history.

In order to impeach a president, the Senate needs to have a two-thirds majority of votes (67 out of 100), and only managed to secure 57 votes in favor of impeachment to 43 votes against impeachment.

Another reason why he was acquitted, besides the votes, is because of Trump’s defense team. They successfully argued that former President Trump’s speech, encouraging individuals to protest President Biden’s election, was protected by the First Amendment. His lawyers successfully claimed that Trump’s speech was taken out of context, with Democratic leaders having used political rhetoric in the past in calling on their own supporters to “fight”.

According to his lawyer, Michael Van Der Veen, he said, “These are the metaphorical, rhetorical uses of the word ‘fight, we all know that, right? Suddenly the word ‘fight’ is off-limits? Spare us the hypocrisy and false indignation. It’s a term used over and over and over again by politicians on both sides of the aisle”. This was considered a good argument during the voting process, allowing Trump to gain more votes to be acquitted.

What happens now?

Former President Trump remains entitled to all the pensions and perks of former presidents and can run for office again in 2024 if he so chooses. The pension and perks include keeping his benefits at the expense of the taxpayer, allowed to keep his pension, and can still receive classified presidential daily briefings. 

What are the opinions of students regarding what’s going on?

Former President Trump’s acquittal affected everyone around the world, including students at William Peace University. 

A student named Luke Deeter, a senior majoring in Simulation and Game Design, expressed his opinion on Trump’s acquittal and how it might affect the population.

“I feel kinda upset that he didn’t get convicted even though the majority voted for his conviction, but I am also upset that congress went on a break after the acquittal. This is very frustrating because still no stimulus package has been passed and people really need help right now,” said Deeter. 

The stimulus package is supposed to address the needs of millions of Americans, including those who have lost their jobs, as well as small businesses, nursing homes, colleges, universities, and K-12 schools, with a total of $600 or more. Luke Deeter also said, “All congress cares about is someone not in power anymore. If they were getting stuff done while doing the acquittal then I would be fine with it. But like, there was no chance of him being convicted and congress wasted a week where they could have focused on covid where people were dying.”

Even though there were COVID vaccines being handed out during former President Trump’s trial, COVID wasn’t tackled that much to help the public. It wasn’t until Biden became president and created the COVID Relief plan. 

Another student named Jacob Owens, a senior majoring in Simulation and Game Design, addresses racism around Trump’s reputation and what his acquittal says to citizens.

“It’s a slap in the face to democracy. If nothing else, Trump refused to denounce white supremacy and provoked his staunchest supporters by trying to delegitimize the results of the election, which shows a clear connection between him and the insurrection. By acquitting him we have effectively said that the president is above the law and can’t be touched. This sets up a dangerous precedent for future politicians in America who might actually try to overrule democracy and organize their followers into helping them do so.”

The outcome for a president being acquitted can affect any person regardless of age, race, and gender. With some being happy about his acquitment, others can be angry about his acquitment. 

Photo courtesy by Robert Lyle Bolton, displaying the Peace Monument with the United States Capitol behind it. Picture represents “Grief and History on the top of the monument. Victory holding the laurel wreath and infants, Mars and Neptune below. Erected in 1878.”