Donald J. Trump’s second impeachment trial is over; the outcome was no surprise. “The Big Lie,” Trump’s false assertion the 2020 election was rigged, was central to the House Managers’ case, but it wasn’t the only big lie circulating within the Senate chamber. Let’s take a look at a few of the others.
Lie One: The second impeachment of the 45th President, Donald J. Trump, was fair and unbiased. That contention is laughable. Both Democrats and Republicans entered the impeachment proceedings with their verdict already in mind. Despite their very tight case, the House Managers were preaching to the choir, and the President’s defense counsel, without substance, never had a chance of swaying the opposition. This historic trial will be recorded as the most bitter, bipartisan impeachment to date.
Lie Two: The second impeachment of Donald Trump was a “by-the-book” proceeding. In a by-the-book proceeding, members of the jury are not permitted to consult with counsel on either side of the fence. As members of the jury, then, Republican senators Lindsay Graham (S.C.), Ted Cruz (Texas), and Mike Lee (Utah) should not have strategized with the defense team after the House Managers made their case. The Republian senators’ apparent lack of impartiality should have nullified their votes.
Lie Three: United States Senators are honest, without hypocrisy, totally dedicated to their constituents. This is a myth for all time. Case in point: Republican senators applauded Officer Eugene Goodman, the deserving recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal, but refused to hold accountable the individual responsible for endangering Officer Goodman and all who were present at the Capitol on January 6th. Politicians do not represent their constituents; they largely represent themselves and further their own interests. If we didn’t know that before, we surely know it now.
No discussion of Republican hypocrisy can proceed without mention of Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, who instructed Republicans to “vote their conscience.” McConnell’s own not guilty vote flies in the face of truth. How could McConnell deny Trump’s culpability and publicly condemn the man immediately afterward? “Not guilty” does not correlate with McConnell’s contention that Donald Trump is “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.”
Lie Four: Republican senators were free to vote their conscience without repercussion. Hours after the impeachment trial ended, the Louisiana Republican party officially censured the state’s senior senator, Bill Cassidy, for his vote to convict the former president. While a censure is nothing more than a political slap on the wrist, no senator should be chastised for following his/her own moral compass, especially when told to “vote their conscience” in the first place.
Lie Five: Republicans’ vote not to convict was based on their belief a civilian can’t be impeached. This one is bogged down with a lot of legal and constitutional rhetoric designed to hide the party’s true motivation. Claiming a civilian can’t be impeached or that a guilty verdict further divides the nation poorly camouflages Republicans’ fear of alienating Donald Trump’s base. Many senators are up for re-election in the coming years; they do not want to rock their political boats. They can claim they could not impeach and convict civilian Trump, but they were clearly moved by power and position alone, not love of country and democracy.
Lie Six: The Republican party is strong, united. This statement is very sadly false. The Grand Old Party, once dedicated to the people, is now splintered between members who want to break away from Trumpism and those who are unaffected by Donald Trump, Jr.’s claim “this is Donald Trump’s Republic.” The GOP allowed itself to be infiltrated by Trumpism’s political sleight of hand. It must now contend with an unchecked cult of personality constantly nurtured by Trump sycophants.
While Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” led to his second impeachment and unleashed a proliferation of untruths and hypocrisy, the impeachment was not entirely unsuccessful. History will record Trump as the only president to date twice impeached. His legacy, if you can call it that, will forever be tainted by the detailed, incriminating timeline of the events of January 6th, 2021, as compiled and presented by the House Managers. “The Big Lie,” then, is not Donald Trump’s claim the 2020 election was rigged; rather, “The Big Lie” is that Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States, is not guilty of inciting the insurrection of January 6th and is not responsible for endangering our democracy and unleashing chaos within our country.