Trump looks to reassert himself after impeachment acquittal

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., leaves the chamber after the Senate voted not guilty in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump on the charge of inciting the January 6 attack on the Congress by a mob of his supporters, at the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., leaves the chamber after the Senate voted not guilty in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump on the charge of inciting the January 6 attack on the Congress by a mob of his supporters, at the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Michael van der Veen, left and Bruce Castor, attorneys from former President Donald Trump, speak with reporters on Capitol Hill after the Senate acquitted Trump in his second impeachment trial in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. Trump was accused of inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and the acquittal gives him a historic second victory in the court of impeachment. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)Michael van der Veen, left and Bruce Castor, attorneys from former President Donald Trump, speak with reporters on Capitol Hill after the Senate acquitted Trump in his second impeachment trial in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. Trump was accused of inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and the acquittal gives him a historic second victory in the court of impeachment. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Donald Trump took in the win at Mar-a-Lago, surrounded by friends and family. His lawyers celebrated with hugs and smiles. One joked, “We’re going to Disney World!”

Now acquitted in his second Senate impeachment trial, Trump is preparing for the next phase of his post-presidency life. Feeling emboldened by the trial’s outcome, he is expected to reemerge from a self-imposed hibernation at his club in Palm Beach, Florida, and is eyeing ways to reassert his power.

But after being barred from Twitter, the former president lacks the social media bullhorn that fueled his political rise. And he’s confronting a Republican Party deeply divided over the legacy of his jarring final days in office, culminating in the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol. Searing video images of the day played on loop during his impeachment trial, which ended Saturday.

Trump remains popular among the GOP base, but many Republicans in Washington have cooled to him. Never before have so many members of a president’s party — seven GOP senators, in his case — voted for his removal in a Senate trial.

Some may work to counter efforts by Trump to support extreme candidates in next year’s congressional primaries.

Undeterred, friends and allies expect Trump to resume friendly media interviews after weeks of silence. He has met with political aides to discuss efforts to help Republicans try to take control of the House and Senate in the 2022 midterms elections. He remains fixated on exacting revenge on Republicans who supported his impeachment or resisted his efforts to overturn the results of the November election won by Democrat Joe Biden.

“I imagine you’ll probably be hearing a lot more from him in the coming days,” senior adviser Jason Miller said.

In a statement after the vote, Trump offered few clues, but was defiant as he told supporters their movement “has only just begun.”

“In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people,” he said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, who spoke with Trump on Saturday night, acknowledged that Trump is “mad at some folks,” but also “ready to move on and rebuild the Republican Party” and “excited about 2022.”

In their conversations, Graham has stressed to Trump, who has threatened to start his own party to punish disloyal Republicans, that the GOP needs him to win.

“I said, ‘Mr. President, this MAGA movement needs to continue. We need to unite the party. Trump-plus is the way back in 2022,’” Graham, R-S.C., told “Fox News Sunday.”

“My goal is to win in 2022 to stop the most radical agenda I’ve seen coming out of the Democratic presidency of Joe Biden. We can’t do that without Donald Trump, so he’s ready to hit the trail and I’m ready to work with him,” Graham said.

Graham said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who voted to acquit but then delivered a scalding denunciation of Trump, “got a load off a chest, obviously.” Graham said later in the interview: “If you want to get something off your chest, fine, but I’m into winning.”

READ MORE: Former U.S. President Donald Trump acquitted in 2nd impeachment trial

At his Palm Beach club on Saturday night, Trump was in a joyous mood as he enjoyed dinner on a patio packed with people. After a mellow last several weeks, one member described a party atmosphere not felt since before the election.

Still, Trump isn’t in the clear yet. No longer protected by a Justice Department opinion against the prosecution of sitting presidents, he now faces multiple ongoing criminal investigations.

In Georgia, the Fulton County district attorney has opened a criminal investigation into “attempts to influence” the election, including Trump’s call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger demanding that the official find enough votes to overturn Biden’s victory.

In New York, Attorney General Letitia James is investigating whether Trump and his company improperly inflated the value of his assets on annual financial statements in order to secure loans and obtain tax benefits. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. continues his own investigation, which has included grand jury testimony.

“He didn’t get away with anything — yet,” McConnell, R-Ky., after the vote. “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 voted to acquit Trump on the grounds the trial was unconstitutional because he is no longer in office, but insisted, “There’s no question — none — that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.”

That sharp rebuke from his once-loyal defender underscores how dramatically Trump’s stock has fallen in Washington since his first impeachment trial just over a year ago. But the desire to be rid of Trump is not shared across the country, where Republicans who have dared to admonish him have faced swift rebuke.

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., was forced to defend her third-in-line leadership position after she voted in favour of impeachment. On Saturday, Louisiana’s Republican Party quickly censured Sen. Bill Cassidy, one of the seven Republicans senators who voted for Trump’s conviction.

In an interview Sunday with ABC’s “This Week,” Cassidy seemed at peace with his decision.

“I think his force wanes,” he said of Trump. “The Republican Party is more than just one person. The Republican Party is about ideas.”

But how long Trump retains his grip remains an open question, especially with a slew of likely 2024 candidates now trying to take the mantle.

Some, like Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, are advocating a clean break from Trump, who ended his presidency with a record low 34% approval rating according to Gallup polling. Others have stressed the need to keep his voters engaged, perhaps with candidates who trumpet the policies Trump championed, but with a less caustic style that might win back suburban voters.

In a sign of his enduring power, the Republican National Committee and other groups spent the trial sending fundraising appeals urging their followers to “Stand with Trump” and “SAVE President Trump’s Legacy,” in the words of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“Oh, time is going to take care of that some way or another,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told reporters Saturday. “But remember, in order to be a leader you got to have followers. So we’re gonna find out, whoever leads. But everybody’s going to be involved. We’re a big tent.”

While the Senate failed to bar Trump from running again for office, many believe he has done too much damage to be a credible candidate himself in 2024.

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who is retiring, said Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the election had “very badly damaged his reputation,” eclipsing his accomplishments in office.

“Instead,” Toomey said, “he’ll be remembered throughout history as the president who resorted to nonlegal steps to try to hold on to power.”

Jill Colvin, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Donald TrumpUSA

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Coastal GasLink begins COVID screening of pipeline workers

Construction is once again ramping up following Northern Health approval of COVID management plan

A housing location for workers on the new Mills Memorial Hospital construction project has been approved by city council. (File photo)
Camp spot proposed for hospital construction workers

As many as 350 outside workers may be needed

Terrace city council are reaching out to the B.C. Office of the Ombudsperson regarding councillor Jessica McCallum-Miller’s resignation on Feb. 22, 2021. (Black Press Media File Photo)
City of Terrace seeking ombudsperson investigation into allegations of systemic racism

Councillor Jessica McCallum-Miller resigned Feb. 22, citing racism

A large provincial grant will make cycling and walking safer in Terrace. (File photo)
Large grant to make walking, cycling safer in Terrace

Pathway will connect old Skeena Bridge to the downtown

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives to view the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Death threats mount against Dr. Bonnie Henry, sparking condemnation from Horgan, Dix

Henry has become a staple on televisions in homes across British Columbia since January 2020

Bryan Adams with his mom, Jane Adams Clark, at Lions Gate Hospital. (Bryan Adams)
Bryan Adams gives shout out to North Shore hospital

The singer’s mom was in Lions Gate Hospital for care

Shoppers will be able to get their hands on signed bottles of Ryan Reynolds’ new gin at B.C. liquor stores this summer. (Twitter/Ryan Reynolds)
Ryan Reynold’s Aviation Gin autographed and coming to B.C. stores

This summer 100 bottles will be available to the public for purchase across five B.C. liquor stores

An official investigation will be launched after VPD officers were recorded posing near a dead body at Third Beach on Wednesday morning, Feb. 24. (Screen grab/Zachary Ratcliff)
VIDEO: Vancouver officers under review for allegedly laughing, taking pictures next to dead body

Two officers were caught on video by a local beachgoer Wednesday morning in Stanley Park

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
‘Stay local’: Dr. Henry shoots down spring break travel for British Columbians

B.C. is reportedly working with other provincial governments to determine March break policies

Most Read