LOS ANGELES - Following the acquittal Saturday of former president Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, Trump’s future in politics remains uncertain. Fifty-seven senators voted to convict him, including seven from his own Republican Party — falling short, however, of the 67 votes needed for conviction.
Trump was found not guilty of inciting violence against the U.S. government after his supporters stormed Congress on Jan. 6, enraged by Trump’s false charge that Joe Biden stole the election.
Democrats said Trump’s responsibility was clear. Seven Republicans agreed, but others said there was not enough evidence.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll shows 71% of U.S. adults, and half of Republicans, believe Trump is partly responsible for the riots.
One man named Zach said he supported impeachment. “Everything he’s been doing is trying to ruin the very fragile voting system we already have that’s already been beaten down quite a bit,” he said.
Trump supporter Shell Reinish, however, said Congress was wasting its time.
“Impeachment is to remove a sitting president from his office. He is no longer in his office,” Reinish said.
Surveys show most Republicans still embrace Trump.
“In fact, 70% of Republicans believe that Joe Biden was illegally elected president,” said Barbara Perry, an analyst at the University of Virginia. That’s something Republican leaders admit is false.
But the analyst said Trump supporters got the policies they wanted.
“They got lower taxes, fewer regulations, conservatives on the federal bench, conservatives on the Supreme Court,” she said. They also got an aggressive foreign policy and a hard line on border issues.
President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress, meanwhile, face challenges.
“The Democrats need to get us out of COVID and get the economy back on track,” said Elaine Kamarck, an analyst with the Brookings Institution. “They’ve got a pretty straightforward job to do, and whatever ideological divisions there are in the party, they are muted compared to the Republican party.”
Trump is loved by his base but reviled by some Republicans and only tolerated by others.
Kamarck and her colleagues at the Brookings Institution foresee a range of possible futures for Trump.
“It goes all the way from leading the Republican Party and getting reelected as president in 2024 to going to jail or having to go into exile in Russia or Saudi Arabia or someplace like that,” she said.
Exonerated in Congress, Trump remains a target for many prosecutors over his business dealings.