For many people in the Philadelphia region, the result of the impeachment trial was anything but shocking — but the 133-day proceeding may have influenced some voters.
The U.S. Senate voted Wednesday evening to acquit President Donald Trump of both charges levied against him in the formal inquiry launched by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi five months ago.
On the counts of obstruction of justice and abuse of power, the vote split exactly along party lines, with one exception. Former GOP presidential nominee Sen. Mitt Romney was the sole dissenting Republican, voting to convict on the abuse of power charge. It would have taken 67 votes for conviction to remove Trump from office.
Independents were swayed…in both directions
Right after the verdict came down, Billy Penn and WHYY went out to ask folks on their commute home what they thought. We ran into quite a few folks who said they were independents — i.e. not registered with any party.
“I wish they had called witnesses. I think it wasn’t a very fair trial. I’m disappointed,” said Karen Edwards of Delco, a 52-year-old independent. After she saw Senate Republicans deny witnesses and evidence from the floor of the impeachment trial — and consequently absolve Trump of any wrongdoing — she’s certain she’ll vote Democratic in the 2020 election.
“It’s a shame,” Edwards added. “It was a circus. I’m embarrassed for our country.”
She’s not the only one. Philly native Wydell Dyches also says he’s an independent, but now he’s leaning to the left. “Trump thinks that he can hide, that he can run away from his problems and the things he’s done,” he said. “He probably gets away with a lot of things. But they’re going to keep digging and they’re going to get him in the end.”
Eddie Worthy, who lives in Philly’s Queen Village neighborhood and said he’s usually a political centrist, is feeling the opposite. “I didn’t feel there was enough evidence to impeach him,” said the 40-year-old. “I’m willing to bet that it’s not the first time there has been a little using [of American] influence to say, ‘Hey, we’re not telling you what to do but it may be in your best interest to look into this.'”
Worthy said he voted twice for Obama — and this November, he plans to vote for Trump a second time, too.
The impeachment looked like one big spectacle to Geno Hartley, of Norristown. A lifelong independent, he thought Democrats and Republicans were “parading on both sides,” which only confirmed how he felt before: “That there’s a lot of wasted time and grandstanding in politics.” The 32-year-old couldn’t help but think it made Democrats look “a little stupid.”
What would Philly do?
To get an idea of how others in Philadelphia viewed impeachment, we asked what you’d have said if you were in the senate when the vote came down. We got more than 40 responses — and over half of them were furious about the acquittal or the proceedings.
Many said they would have called for Trump’s removal:
With full confidence I voted to remove Donald Trump. He has let down the American people. He has done things to satisfy his self and his friends and family.
And noted that the highest office in the land comes with special requirements:
The president must not simply be beyond corruption, but beyond even the appearance of corruption. A president who cannot take care to be rigorously ethical in his office is a president that cannot be trusted with it. Trump should be removed from office immediately.
Several folks took on a mocking persona of Sen. Pat Toomey, the Pennsylvania Republican who had briefly considered a compromise to call witnesses:
Hi. I’m Pat Toomey. My vote vote confirms what many of you already knew. I’m a complete moron. Thanks for your support.
About a third of people who wrote in said the trial was a sham or waste of time. There were echoes of one of Trump’s favorite lines, about a “witch hunt”:
This has been a witch hunt and a Democratic coup since the 2016 election….Get over it and support our president.
Or that it just wasn’t a good look:
The Democrats look like hate mongers.
A few others wrote in statements that blamed both sides:
If I were a Democrat I would be ashamed. Pelosi acted like a spoiled rich Caucasian lady, not the picture the Democrats want to portray. If I were a Republican, I would try to do something to keep Trump off Twitter.
…or were tongue-in-cheek jokes:
I’m sorry. He threatened my kids.
The election is still undecided, another person noted:
Our Constitution was NEVER intended to be used in a partisan manner. This is why Donald J. Trump is still President. It is now up to you, the people; to deny him a second term.
What happens next in D.C.?
After being cooped up in impeachment proceedings for weeks, senators are making a break for it. Normally there would be a Thursday vote on legislation, but since the elected officials were occupied with impeachment, there’s nothing ready for a floor vote.
In the meantime, many senators have already left D.C. to take a long weekend before getting back to legislative business next week.
“Today, the Senate turned its back on our Constitution and the rule of law,” said Delaware County U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon in a statement. “I am disheartened and scared of what this president will do knowing that, with few exceptions, the Republican Party is unwilling to challenge his misconduct.”
What did Sen. Toomey actually say? That while he didn’t approve of everything Trump did, he didn’t feel the actions reached the level of conviction.
“While some of President Trump’s actions were inappropriate,” Toomey said in a statement, “they did not come close to meeting the very high bar required to justify overturning the last election.”
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party is still settling on the candidate who will face off against Trump in the November election. The Pennsylvania primary is set for April 28. If you want to hit the polls that day, make sure you’re registered by April 13.