Former US President Donald Trump had comprehensively been beaten in the 2020 elections by the Democrat Joe Biden, but had refused to concede this reality right till the moment the latter was sworn into office. Having failed to prove in dozens of courts that there had been large scale fraudulent voting, and to persuade his Vice-President Mike Pence to have the results declared unlawful, the maverick Trump had taken to the fascist path. He had called upon his supporters to march to Washington on January 6 to voice their protests, and thousands of them, mostly belonging to far right groups, gathered at the American capital in response to that call. In full view of the world, Trump in a fiery speech exhorted this mob to “stop the steal,” whereupon his supporters mounted an attack on the halls of the Capitol building to stop the count of the Electoral College votes declaring Joe Biden as President-elect. It had been the most shameful assault on democracy since the US had been founded, a truth apparent to everyone except diehard Republicans and a majority of their representatives. Five people, including a policeman, had died in the violence, while Congressmen and Senators had to flee for their lives in the face of the assault by the frenzied mob. Consequently, the Congress recommended impeachment of Trump and forwarded its recommendation to the Senate for action.
This was the second time impeachment proceedings had been launched against Trump, the Democrats having charged him in December 2019 with pressuring Ukraine to smear Biden, when he was first acquitted by the Senate on February 5, 2020. On this occasion there was a single impeachment count against the former President – incitement of insurrection. As before, the ultimate verdict was a foregone conclusion, since a majority of Republican Senators were unwilling to vote for impeachment. It may be recalled that though Trump had lost the elections, he had received 74 million votes, and Republican lawmakers were fearful that if they voted for impeachment, Trump’s support base would turn against them. This was another shameful instance of political expediency triumphing over principles, with Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell exposing their two-tongued, hypocritical selves. At the end of the proceedings the 50 Democrat Senators, joined by 7 Republicans, fell 10 votes short of the 67, or two-thirds of the 100-member Senate, needed for a conviction. While the seven Republicans who voted to impeach showed tremendous courage, the cowardice of the rest revealed the vice-like grip Trump continues to wield over the Grand Old Party. Not only does this mean that Trump remains qualified to make another attempt for the presidency in the 2024 elections, but also that the Republicans have lost a great opportunity to come out of his pernicious shadow and take the party towards a new direction.