The few Republicans who voted against the former president had gone happily along with him when it suited them
There was something poignant on Saturday about the lengths gone to by some media organisations in the US to try to make the result less appalling. “Most bipartisan support for conviction in history,” declared the New York Times, clutching at the pitiful seven Republicans who voted in favour of impeaching Donald Trump, well short of the 17 needed to uphold a conviction. Four years ago, at a campaign stop in Iowa, Trump famously declared: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” Here we were, a month after five people died during the storming of the Capitol, living some version of that promise.
It should have helped, perhaps, that the result was anticipated before the trial even got under way. There was no suspense, no surprise; the votes needed to convict were never there. Nor, seemingly, was the appetite for investigation: both sides agreed at the 11th hour not to call witnesses and draw this thing out, a lassitude mirrored across the electorate. What was the point of even watching the proceedings, stoking one’s outrage or being moved by the closing arguments of Congressman Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager, when it was apparent that Trump would get off scot-free? Better to avoid and move on.