After Trump acquittal, Republicans see ‘battle for soul of party’ | Daily News

After Trump acquittal, Republicans see ‘battle for soul of party’

Rioters outside Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. on January 6.
Rioters outside Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. on January 6.

US: A day after the Senate acquitted Donald Trump in a historic second impeachment trial, America was weighing how long a shadow the former President, even with a tarnished legacy, will continue to cast -- over his party, and over the country.

As much of the world watched, the Senate on Saturday voted 57-43 to convict Trump of inciting the January 6 assault on the US Capitol.

It was a stinging rebuke, with seven Republicans joining all Democrats in the most bipartisan impeachment vote ever, but it fell short of the 67 votes needed for conviction.

With Trump hinting afterward at a possible political future even as other Republicans said it was time to move on, the stark divide facing the party over the deeply controversial ex-president was on full view. One frequent Trump critic, Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland, on Sunday predicted a "real battle for the soul of the Republican Party."

"This is not over," the Republican Governor told CNN, adding he would have voted to convict Trump.

Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana was one of the seven Republicans to vote to convict; he predicted Sunday that Trump's still-strong hold on Republicans would fade. "I think his force wanes. The Republican Party is more than just one person... I think our leadership will be different going forward," he told ABC's "This Week."

But one of the former President's fiercest defenders, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, insisted Sunday that Trump, with his fervent following, retains a huge political role as the party looks ahead to the 2022 midterm elections.

He called Trump the "most vibrant member of the Republican Party," adding, "We need Trump-Plus in 2022."

Trump has flirted with the idea of running for the White House again in 2024. A conviction Saturday would have likely barred him from holding federal office again.

Merely hinting at a possible run will keep him in political conversations -- and allow him to continue raising large amounts of money. Trump for now remains secluded in his Florida club since leaving office on January 20.

In his statement Saturday, he welcomed the verdict, denouncing the proceedings as "yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country." - AFP