A decisive minority in the U.S. Senate — Republicans all — acquitted former President Donald Trump Saturday on the sole impeachment charge of incitement of insurrection.
Oklahoma’s U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford followed the lead of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, essentially refusing to consider Trump’s guilt or innocence.
Based on a flawed reading of the Constitution, they cut to the end of the process, decided they couldn’t remove Trump from an office he no longer holds and walked away from the process. Legal scholarship, history and a plain reading of the Constitution say they are wrong.
Forty-three senators turned a blind eye to the Constitution, which clearly provides for “disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States” as a penalty for conviction of impeachment charges.
McConnell’s hypocrisy was particularly galling because he had the opportunity to begin the impeachment trial while Trump was still in office, but refused to do so.
The Trump 43 failed their constituents and the oath of office. They failed the Constitution. Thanks to them, Trump remains the most prominent voice in the Republican Party and poised to make a renewed run for power in 2024.
Trump incited the Jan. 6 riot. He did so to prevent the Electoral College from certifying the victory of Joe Biden. It was a violent, if pathetic, usurpation of power, that brought death and ignominy to the U.S. Capitol. It was allowed to go unpunished as a political convenience.
The vote essentially begs for criminal prosecution of Trump on the basis of his actions on Jan. 6 and earlier. Senate Republicans refused to bring the Jan. 6 tragedy to a just end, meaning the nation will get to relive the pain in court and in public debate for months to come.
Seven Republican senators — Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania — bravely voted to convict Trump.
Although a minority of the minority, they will be remembered as brave and honest patriots.
There is no February exception in the Constitution. Incitement to riot in January is incitement to riot anytime of the year.
Inhofe, Lankford, McConnell and the others have set a dangerous precedent that leaves the nation exposed to international ridicule and future seditious plots.