On Monday, members of the U.S. House of Representatives walked the article of impeachment against former Donald Trump to the U.S. Senate. Nine members from the House, led by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland), will serve as managers – acting as prosecutors – in the trial, which is set to begin on February 9.
The entirety of the House Democrats, along with 10 Republicans, voted on January 13 to charge the former President with inciting insurrection earlier in January. That resulted in the storming of the Capitol Building, which left five people dead after a violent mob smashed windows, occupied offices and even the very Senate chamber where the trial will be held.
Soon after the second articles of impeachment were delivered to the Senate at around 7pm ET comments began to circulate on social media. Much of it was simply lawmakers sharing the facts – but it is clear opinions even on the very fact that a trial is being held was divided along partisan lines.
Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colorado), was among those who delivered the articles, and made that point clear on social media, “Tonight, I had the solemn duty of joining my fellow managers in delivering the article of impeachment to the United States Senate.”
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The sentiment was shared by fellow Colorado Democrat Rep. Diana DeGette, who tweeted, ” Article of Impeachment: Delivered Trial: Ready to Begin”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) (@SenWarren) at least explained why she supports the trial, “Donald Trump incited an insurrection at the US Capitol. The House has fulfilled its constitutional duty by delivering an article of impeachment to the Senate. Now the Senate must fulfill its constitutional duty by convicting and barring him from ever holding office again.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y) (@RepLeeZeldin) countered, “Absolutely no one should be playing along with this total farce of an impeachment of a President who isn’t even in office anymore.”
Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) (D-Oregon) expressed frustration with his Republican colleagues and vented on social media, “Articles of Impeachment have arrived at the Senate. Only 3 of 50 Republican senators showed up. Very disturbing to see this visual message that they don’t plan to take seriously their constitutional responsibility.”
Sen. Merkley added that it was the responsibility of every Senator to hear the evidence – but as has been noted, this wasn’t actually the trial.
Some in the media also have taken notice of how this unprecedented and historic trial could unfold.
Andrew Desiderio (@AndrewDesiderio), congressional reporter for Politico, posted, “SCHUMER on witnesses during the impeachment trial: ‘I don’t think there’s a need for a whole lot of witnesses. We were all witnesses.”
Andrew Prokop (@awprokop), senior politics correspondent at Vox.com, questioned the procedures as they are still unfolding, “What McConnell’s play on the organizing resolution reminds me of is Pelosi withholding the impeachment articles from the Senate last year. A kind of goofy procedural overreach that doesn’t achieve anything substantive and ends in a climbdown that’s tried to be spun as a victory”
Reporter Samantha-Jo Roth (@SamanthaJoRoth) showed some unnecessary glee in the fact that the nation will experience another Senate trial, tweeting, “Insurrection, inauguration & now impeachment trial – bring it on!”
However, legal expert Elie Honig (@eliehonig) took a less partisan approach and simply explained why the Senate trial is even necessary. He tweeted, “Yes, the Senate should be able to try a former president. Anything else would lead to unaccountable chaos. But this defense threatens to give Senators an off-ramp and potentially to derail the proceedings.”
Office Of The Former President
While it is likely that former President Trump followed Monday’s event as it unfolded, there was a clear effort to deflect as well. Earlier in the day, Trump officially opened the “Office of the Former President” but what it can actually do (if anyting) isn’t clear.
@Truth_Gazette was one of the few social media accounts to simply share the announcement, tweeting: “President Trump will always be a champion of the American People. The Office will be responsible for managing President Trump’s correspondence, public statements, appearances, and activities.”
However, it was apparent by evening that the announcement was largely just the subject of mockery across social media. There were more than 60,000 tweets by the late evening but few were supportive of the new office. Yet, it is worth noting that it did allow Trump to get back onto Twitter in quite a roundabout way – but certainly didn’t bring the expected response he would have liked.
What is also clear from social media on Monday is that opponents of the President still believe a trial will somehow heal the country. Time will tell if that is the case, or if it just another wedge that further divides the nation.