by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The outcome of former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial is all but certain. He will be, barring a startling development, acquitted on a charge of inciting insurrection. But the proceeding itself will raise a slew of questions about the Republican Party he has led for the last four years.
But the evidence laid out by prosecution and defense, details of the actions of Trump supporters during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, questions raised by senators, and the final vote tally will each offer insight into the direction of a party grappling with its post-Trump direction.
For some conservatives, it represents the last chance at redemption.
“The prosecution has the law, the evidence, and emotion on their side,” said Matt K. Lewis, author of Too Dumb to Fail: How the GOP Betrayed the Reagan Revolution to Win Elections (and How It Can Reclaim Its Conservative Roots).
“What does it say about Republicans if that’s not enough to get 17 votes? Republicans have yet another chance to try and redeem themselves and begin earning our respect again. Will they take it? I wouldn’t bet on them,” said Lewis.
On Tuesday, House impeachment managers began outlining their case against Trump with an argument that their prosecution is constitutional. They opened with a graphic video of the deadly Jan. 6 attack on Congress.
They are unlikely to win over the 17 Republican senators needed to vote with Democrats in favor of conviction. But the style of defense and the way in which GOP senators rally to the 45th president may offer a glimpse of Trump’s continuing hold on the party.
Steve Bannon, Trump’s former strategist, and his allies have tried to portray the trial as a battle for the soul of the party — if not the soul of the country.