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Painting Parallels of Presidents' Civil Wars

Jamie Stiehm on

WASHINGTON -- Some Presidents Day: icy with a bitter blow in the wind.

I'm telling myself the impeachment trial vote on former President Donald Trump was a moral victory. The Senate tally was 57 guilty, 43 not guilty. Seven Republicans joined 50 Democrats for a 14-vote margin. That's a rebuke for the Jan. 6 deadly riot he caused at the Capitol.

Yet it came up short of conviction, which requires 67 votes, two-thirds of the body. The House managers, full of vim and vigor, could not have moved one more sullen Republican senator.

The tragedy was the war within the Republican leader. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., clearly dearly wished to have the courage to vote against Trump, but yielded to his partisan self. He could have made all the difference.

I witnessed the drama with my own eyes, from the Senate press gallery. The face of Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina reddened with anger when scenes of the attack on the Capitol were played. I suspected he'd diverge and vote "guilty," which he did.

That very chamber was invaded by white men with helmets and horns. The quaint 19th-century desks were ransacked. Confederate flags waved outside the floor.

 

The angry mob called for the vice president's neck as he presided over the Electoral College count that afternoon. Trump called a freshman senator to see what was going on after the violence started, as if he didn't know.

Mike Pence barely escaped with his life, as the trial showed, just steps and moments from the marauders.

One lawyer for Trump, Michael van der Veen, was just as mean-spirited and mendacious as his client. Trump knows how to pick them.

We know an American president never before seized the Capitol by murderous force to overturn an election he has lost. That makes Trump the worst president ever.

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