Op-ed: Former President Trump is impeached for the second time

Ava Alaeddini, contributor

Everyone remembers the hateful and vicious attack on the United States Capitol Jan. 6, 2021 where members of far-right hate groups gathered in Washington, D.C. to incite violence at the behest of former President Donald Trump. Only one day later, there were talks of a second impeachment already on the rise for Trump again. After the attack, 10 House Republicans backed Trump’s impeachment along with all House Democrats, making him the first president in American history to get impeached twice, and the process moved forward to dismantle Trump from any further source of power. According to the House of Representatives, Trump was “singularly responsible” for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol despite the former President and his team saying that the First Amendment protected his speech on that fateful day. 

In the weeks leading up to the trial, Trump lost five of his defense attorneys with no other lawyers joining Trump’s defense team almost a week before his trial was set to start. The attorneys still involved in Trump’s defense said his speech and tweets on that day were meant to “fight for election security.” The legal team for the former President has also stated that it is not possible or constitutional to try Trump after he had left office. This claim is false because the Senate has tried a former official in the past

However, it is important to note that the First Amendment does not protect anyone from the criminal charge of inciting chaos and violence, much like what happened at the Capitol. Even Trump’s lawyers should know that he is in the wrong here. I think that the President should be held to the same standards as a normal citizen when it comes to the law, and if the First Amendment does not protect against speech that incites hateful violence, then it should not excuse the President from walking away when he commits that crime. If this country preaches that no one is above the law, why do our government officials consistently let Trump go without any consequences? To me, this impeachment is a prime example of hypocrisy and white privilege that will go down in history as an embarrassment. 

In my opinion, Trump deserved everything that came his way. The United States government had the opportunity to ensure that Trump never holds public office again. These past four years have been terrifying to watch. During his time in office, Trump instituted the Muslim Ban which barred refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. He placed a ban on transgender people from serving in the military. He called Black Lives Matter “a symbol of hate” on Twitter. Not to mention the fact that he mishandled and downplayed the COVID-19 pandemic from the start, rejecting the science that was right in front of him. Some people forget that Trump was impeached in December 2019 on the charges of abuse of power. This will be the fourth impeachment of a U.S. president in history, and the fact that Donald Trump’s presidency makes up half of the impeachments in this country is astounding. As a democracy, we elect government officials who adhere to the law, or we become a country that accepts abusive leaders as the norm. 

It is important to remember that, if a normal American were to do what former President Trump did Jan. 6 and incite mass chaos and violence at our nation’s capital, then that person would be in jail. They would be in court with charges against them, and there would be little chance they would be able to walk away in the fashion that Trump did as a powerful white man with several connections. For example, the FBI recently arrested a Tallahassee man for inciting violence at the Florida Capitol building a little over a week after what happened in D.C. It baffles me that the most punishment that Trump received was getting kicked off Twitter and several other social media platforms. Trump deserved tangible repercussions for his actions. 

Unfortunately, Trump was acquitted Feb. 13 and escaped consequences for a second time — he was just 10 votes away from being convicted, with seven Senate Republicans and all Senate Democrats voting in favor of conviction. This means Trump still has the option to run again for office. While I did not expect Trump to be convicted just by looking at the number of Republican officials who still supported him, I can’t say that the verdict of an acquittal hurt any less. The Senate conviction trial will be recorded as a failure in American history. However, this does not mean Trump is safe in the legal department since he has pending criminal charges against him in Georgia and New York, and especially since he cannot hide behind the presidency anymore. Hopefully, the American public will see Trump facing consequences soon.

Ava Alaeddini is a first-year English major. She can be reached at [email protected]