The US Senate voted Wednesday to acquit Donald Trump, bringing the partisan, contentious impeachment trial to a close. Moreover, the verdict served to galvanize a phalanx of African American politicians and civil rights leaders as well as progressive groups, among others, to continue to combat and try to unseat the politically emboldened president.
So expect the 2020 presidential race to heat up in the months ahead.
Calling the acquittal “a betrayal” in her address to more than 200 protesters outside the Capitol, Rep. Ayanna Pressley asserted: “I will focus my ire on Senate Republicans. Shame on you, Mitch McConnell.”
According to MSN, the Massachusetts congresswoman’s invective leveled at the majority leader of the GOP-controlled Senate came after Trump was cleared of both charges—abuse of power and obstruction of Congress—as Democrats and Republicans voted along party lines: 48- 52 and 47-53, respectively. To remove Trump from office, 67 senators from the 100-member body needed to vote to convict him on at least one article of impeachment. The only Republican senator to break ranks was one-time presidential candidate Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who voted to convict Trump on abuse of power related to seeking foreign interference from Ukraine for the 2020 election.
The third president to be impeached by the House and the first in modern history to seek re-election, Trump, who feels vindicated from proceedings he characterized as a “witch hunt,” will spend the next nine months in campaign mode. He apparently launched his bid during the State of the Union Tuesday night, gaining a pep rally-like reception from GOP lawmakers chanting “four more years” upon his arrival and delivering what amounted to be a stump speech.
‘The President Is Not An Emperor’
“I am gravely concerned that almost every Republican voted to acquit the President of the United States today,” Congresswoman Alma Adams of North Carolina said in a released statement. “A vote tp acquit is really a vote to quit; to quit providing Congressional oversight, to quit defending the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic; and, most terrifying, to quit treating Donald Trump as someone who is subject to the rule of law. This vote sets a terrible precedent that threatens the concept of separation of powers and our constitutional government itself.”
She added: “The president is not an emperor. It is not in our national interest to treat him like one.”
In response to what they view as a “sham trial,” more than 200 “Reject The Cover-Up” protests will take place nationwide. The demonstrators are largely focused on last week’s 51-49 Senate vote— once again, along party lines—dismissing subpoenas for new witnesses and documents. Groups like the Women’s March and Common Cause are expected to lead anti-Trump protests in 45 cities and Washington, D.C.
Acquittal is ‘Jim Crow-Style Southern Justice’
In an impassioned address during Tuesday’s Congressional Black Caucus Leadership Forum, Rev. William Barber, the North Carolina pastor who manages the Poor People’s Campaign, was prescient about the president’s acquittal, comparing the act to “Jim Crow-style southern justice.”
Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California, the first legislator to call for Trump’s impeachment, anticipated that he would not be removed from the Oval Office as well. During her third annual Millennial Media Row which she attended instead of SOTU, the Chair of the House Financial Services Committee told Essence that the Supreme Court will address her petitions regarding Trump’s questionable financial dealings within the next few months. But she argued that the best way to get rid of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was for multitudes of voters to exercise their power at the ballot box come November.
NAACP Legal Defense Fund President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill agrees that such voter mobilization could prove effective in defeating Trump but insists protective measures must be put in place to safeguard election systems. After the president was cleared, Ifill wrote for Slate: “Senators who voted to acquit Trump argued that the 2020 election is the appropriate forum to determine whether he should be removed from office. They contend that “the people” have the opportunity to express their will. The same senators must be called upon to prove this argument was not merely another move in a cynical shell game. And, if there are United States Senators who are prepared to fight to the integrity of our election system outside of the context of an impeachment trial, then voters need to know, sooner rather than later, who they are.”
Says former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, the only African American currently running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination: “I think we can all agree, or mostly agree, that four more years of Donald Trump and this nation will be unrecognizable as a modern democracy.”