PORTLAND NEEDS WILLAMETTE WEEK.
NOW WILLAMETTE WEEK NEEDS YOU.

The need for strong, independent local journalism
is more urgent than ever. Please support the city we
love by joining Friends of Willamette Week.

Sen. Ron Wyden on Impeachment Acquittal: “43 Republican Senators Have Chosen Donald Trump Over the Constitution”

But for once, impassioned feelings about Trump weren’t stronger than the Oregon weather.

The second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump ended abruptly Saturday with the same result as the first: acquittal.

A meticulous case presented by House Democrats—that Trump lied to his most fervent acolytes about imagined election fraud, whipped them into a frenzy, then set them upon the U.S. Capitol in a deadly attack Jan. 6 in a failed attempt to halt the certification of his loss—managed to persuade just seven Republican senators.

That number left Congress 10 votes shy of the margin needed to convict Trump and bar him from seeking elected office again.

The verdict, while predictable, suggested that the former president's grip on his fellow Republicans was stronger than evidence that he had sent a crowd of paramilitaries to harm them. But for once, impassioned feelings about Trump weren't stronger than the Oregon weather: With Portland buried in a snowstorm, post-impeachment protesters were nowhere to be seen.

All 50 Democrats in the Senate voted to convict. Among them: Oregon's two U.S. senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.

Both issued statements after the verdict, of a length and solemnity that suggested they had prepared for this outcome.

Here is Wyden's statement in full:

"Senators swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Today 43 Republican senators have chosen Donald Trump over the Constitution, and in so doing they have betrayed their oath. There can be no doubting the evidence that Donald Trump inspired, fomented and ultimately called for the assault on the Capitol. Once it was happening, he stalled rather than defending the seat of American democracy. The majority of Republican senators ratified this wrongful behavior by a president of the United States and set a precedent that others could do so as well.

"This acquittal gives room for Donald Trump and others to continue to tell the Big Lie about the 2020 election. The falsehoods underpinning the Big Lie are already becoming the pretext for new Republican efforts to restrict voting rights in Georgia and other states across the country. This is shameful, and Americans need to do everything possible to stop it.

"The Trump defense was misleading, confused and smarmy—never a good faith attempt to grapple with the facts of the case. There are still serious unanswered questions about what Trump was doing while the mob was ransacking the Capitol and hunting for his vice president, the speaker and other lawmakers. Had Trump interceded before or during the attack, lives could have been saved, untold trauma prevented, and the desecration of the building avoided. He did not.

"It was totally inappropriate for the defense to include what were essentially slick Trump campaign videos as evidence in an impeachment trial. My head spun when I heard the defense team lecture about the need for unity after they'd suggested that holding Trump accountable could lead to further violence or even civil war. Holding disgraced politicians accountable for their abuse of power is not divisive. It's the abuse of power itself that's divisive.

"The House managers' presentation was staggeringly powerful. Senators knew the attack was a disaster and a tragedy, but the House managers made clear how much worse it could have been. The heroism of so many law enforcement officers made all the difference, but it came at a terrible cost. Donald Trump may never accept it, but he bears responsibility for the suffering of the injured and the suffering of three families of police officers mourning the ultimate loss.

"Sadly, Republicans have demonstrated that they will not sanction a president of their party for inciting violence to hold power. There's no denying that convicting a member of one's own party would be difficult, but what matters more than narrow political interests is the fact that Donald Trump will continue to pose a grave danger to our democracy. Republicans have left the door open for Trump to take power again, and they have weakened the guardrails that our founders intended to protect American democracy from people like him."

Here is Merkley's statement in full:

"It's impossible to watch the footage presented by the House managers and not come to the conclusion that Donald Trump was responsible for inciting the deadly attack on our Capitol. The facts speak for themselves: Donald Trump spent years cheerleading violence and intimidation as political tools and months spreading conspiracies and lies about the election being stolen. He stoked the fury of his supporters, repeatedly telling them that they had to 'fight like hell' to overturn the election. He rescheduled his rally to coincide with the electoral vote count, and then sent his mob to the Capitol. He did nothing to stop the attack once it started and reportedly celebrated it at the White House. Since the attack, he has shown absolutely no remorse for the death and destruction it caused.

"All of the facts point to one inescapable conclusion. The insurrection was not to Donald Trump a terrible tragedy, it was exactly what he wanted. 'We love you,' he told the rioters who had just murdered a police officer and erected gallows to hang his vice president. Donald Trump attacked the very foundation of our constitutional democracy by trying to seize power through lies and violence. Thus, I conclude that former President Trump did incite the insurrection, and I voted for his conviction today.

"In the months ahead, I will do all in my power to repair our republic and advance the vision of government of the people, by the people, and for the people. To that goal, I will work to pass S.1, the For the People Act, which tackles the dark money, partisan gerrymandering, and voter suppression that seeks to erect a blockade to prevent many Americans from voting. Congress has a grave responsibility to pass it without delay."