Two Democratic lawmakers who were part of the team of House impeachment managers charged with providing prosecutorial evidence against former President Donald Trump in his Senate impeachment trial say that history will not look too kindly upon him.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-California) and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-California) appeared on the MSNBC program “All In With Chris Hayes” on Monday, where they fielded questions about their unsuccessful attempt to convince two-thirds of the Senate to indict Trump over his role in inciting a mob of his loyalists to attack the Capitol last month.
Just 57 senators (all 50 Democratic members of the chamber, plus seven Republicans) said Trump deserved to be convicted in that trial, while only 43 senators — all Republicans — voted for acquittal.
Despite not reaching the two-thirds threshold to convict, both Lieu and Swalwell pointed out an important silver lining — that they were able to get 57 votes in the “upper house” of Congress, where such numbers on any piece of legislation are rarely achieved, to agree that Trump deserved to be indicted.
“In most contexts, 57-43 is a blowout. This was not close,” Lieu said on the program.
Lieu further implied that Trump’s second impeachment trial has done harm to his image. Though the Senate, upon a successful conviction, could have chosen to bar Trump from ever holding federal office again, Lieu suggested that the impeachment managers’ work last week helped ensure he’d wouldn’t be president four years in the future.
“History will record that Donald Trump incited insurrection, there’s no question about that, and history also includes four years from now,” Lieu said, addressing rumors that the former president might run in 2024. “I think this makes it really hard for Donald Trump to try to do anything politically anymore.”
Swalwell agreed. “We won 57 votes. The court of public opinion says that Donald Trump should never hold office again today,” he said.
“I think we’ll only be vindicated by history,” Swalwell added, “because it’s not like Donald Trump is going to look better with time. He’s going to age like milk, he’s not going to age like wine.”
Lieu said House impeachment managers “proved their case,” even to Republican senators, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who didn’t vote to indict. After the trial ended, McConnell strongly suggested that the former president could face criminal inquiries in the near future.
“We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one,” McConnell said on Saturday.
Both lawmakers recognized that many Republicans voting against indictment did so because they didn’t believe they had the constitutional authority to do so — a notion that most legal experts have openly disagreed with. But House managers proved, even to those who disagreed on constitutional grounds, that Trump would make a bad choice to serve in office again.
“We showed Donald Trump incited insurrection. They just hung their vote on a willful misreading of the constitution,” Lieu pointed out.
Swalwell concurred, stating that even a “signed confession” of guilt from Trump wouldn’t have swayed Republicans away from the question of constitutionality.
Whether Trump will run for office again in the future or not (and whether Republicans back his efforts to do so) remains to be seen, but Lieu and Swalwell are correct on one matter: in the public’s eyes, Trump lost the trial.
According to a recent poll from Quinnipiac University, conducted during the final days of the Trump impeachment trial, 54 percent of Americans believe the former president was responsible for the violence that occurred at the Capitol on January 6. Fifty-five percent said they don’t want him to ever be allowed to hold office again, and 60 percent said they hope he doesn’t have a future role to play within GOP politics. A similar ABC News/Ipsos poll found that 58 percent of Americans believed Trump deserved to be convicted in the Senate impeachment trial.