Port: Trump must still be convicted
The conviction would still matter. Many Trump apologists would have us believe that the impeachment and pending conviction vote are pointless now that Trump has left office. They'd like us to believe that these things are just exercises in the sort of petty partisan politics that have become rote in Washington, D.C. They are wrong.
MINOT, N.D. — The walking, talking disgrace that is Donald Trump has left the White House.
His final days in office were unusually quiet, outside of a flurry of pardons for his cronies. Trump didn't bother to attend the inauguration of his successor, Joe Biden , a petty breach of traditional presidential respect for the transition that hasn't occurred since the bitterness of the Civil War era when Andrew Johnson refused to attend the inauguration of Ulysses Grant.
Consider that for a moment. But for death (or resignation in Richard Nixon's case) no American president since the Civil War has refused to extend such basic dignities to his successor.
That makes Trump a petty, mean-spirited person. More than that. He's a coward. It takes courage and integrity, after any bitterly-fought political campaign, to attend the celebration of your opponent's victory. Those are not things our former president has.
Trump's manifest failings of character are not why the Senate, which still has before it the matter of the House's articles of impeachment, should convict the now-former president.
Being a terrible human being is not an impeachable offense. Inciting a riot at the Capitol, and then refusing to act to squash that riot to protect Congress (and the vice president, who was there presiding over the Senate), absolutely is.
"The mob was fed lies,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a recent Senate floor speech . “They were provoked by the president and other powerful people. And they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like.”
Every word of that is true, and because it's true, there is no excuse for any senator to vote against convicting Trump.
The conviction would still matter. Many Trump apologists would have us believe that the impeachment and pending conviction vote are pointless now that Trump has left office. They'd like us to believe that these things are just exercises in the sort of petty partisan politics that have become rote in Washington, D.C.
They are wrong.
Trump can no longer be removed from an office he does not occupy, but the Senate can bar him from seeking that office again in the future. They should. No person who has done what Trump has should be allowed even the opportunity to campaign for the presidency again.
Beyond the practical implications of a conviction, there is the symbolism.
A Trump rally at which nonsense conspiracy theories about stolen elections were promoted turned into a full-on attack on Congress, and Trump's own vice president, as they attempted to approve the Electoral College votes sent to them by the states.
No president should get away with that free of consequence.
Trump must be convicted as a message to every future president that such behavior will not be tolerated.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org .