The Senate voted Saturday to acquit former President Trump on one article of impeachment. 57 Senators voted guilty, while 43 voted not guilty. Republican lawmakers, while condemning Trump’s part in the January 6th Capitol Hill riots, questioned the authority of Congress to try a former President, and as the votes were tallied, it became apparent that was a bridge too far.
Former Representative Peter King, who retired from Congress at the end of 2020, told The Cats Roundtable “Democrats overreached with impeachment,” but also explained Donald Trump had thrown them ammunition with his actions, and in the end, potentially tarnished a worthwhile legacy.
“I think the President was wrong, but I would not have voted in the House to impeach him, I would not have voted in the Senate to remove him,” King asserted. “But, on the other hand, I think he’s definitely damaged his legacy, and it was a great legacy, but this is going to be a permanent stain on it.”
King spoke strongly of Trump’s “almost oblivious” response to the plight of lawmakers as a violent mob took over the Capitol on January 6th. But King, who voted against both Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1999 and Trump’s first impeachment in 2020, was extremely concerned by either party using impeachment as an increasingly partisan weapon, calling it a “rush to judgment” for “banner headlines.”
“Again the Democrats wanted the headline, Republicans somehow were trying to defend President Trump, but they also wanted to separate themselves from President Trump,” King explained, adding to have an impeachment trial “in such a half-hearted way” was “a shameful abdication of responsibility.”
King said the desire to perform an impeachment where the outcome was all but certain had been a democratic disservice to the country, as the country reels under a series of crises while Congress focused solely on impeachment.
“We have really serious issues in this country,” King declared. “We have the worst pandemic in history of the country, we have China emerging as a major superpower, we have businesses all over the country hoping they can somehow recover from this pandemic. These are the things we should be addressing, and instead, we went through basically a mini show trial.”
King told The Cats Roundtable Republicans also had to move away from starting “their own cancel culture,” and said instead of trying to oust the Republicans who broke from the party to vote for Trump’s impeachment, it was time for the party to come together on its common ground.
“We shouldn’t be forming a circular firing squad,” King said. “We can’t be going after people just because we happen to disagree with certain votes. 90% of the issues, they all agree, and that’s how we should go forward.”
One thing is certain: President Donald Trump’s legacy will be with the country, and the GOP, for years, even decades to come. How that legacy is shaped, remembered, and propelled into the future remains to be seen, but many of Trump’s allies fear the tumult of January 6th will eclipse 4 years under Trump that saw historical progress in America’s foreign trade agreements, unemployment rates, and the rolling out of Operation Warp Speed. Despite two impeachments, criminal investigations, and an unrelenting anti-Trump media machine, Trump remains the most popular GOP figure.
But support for Trump can’t be misconstrued with blind loyalty for any individual, King said.
“In the end, it’s up to the politicians to show some guts,” King said, explaining the influence of Trump on the Republican party moving forward, especially if a 2024 Trump presidential run is not out of the question, to be tempered with a “more rational attitude.”
Listen to the interview below