President Donald Trump has been impeached, and not only by the House of Representatives.
The storming of the Capitol last week by a mob egged on by the president has brought a rapid judgment not only from the lawmakers whose lives were threatened on that violent day but also from other Americans who bore witness. The nation’s broader culture – from business leaders and bankers to coaches and golf pros and social media platforms – has delivered an unprecedented series of rebukes as well.
No president has ever found himself so roundly shunned and so isolated, with potential repercussions for everything from his public legacy to his earnings potential.
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- The social-media platforms that were crucial to his political rise and the consolidation of his core support have banned him for varying periods of time. YouTube on Wednesday barred Trump for at least a week, following in the steps of bans by Facebook and Twitter. Twitter’s permanent ban silenced Trump’s voice on the platform that has been his primary means of communicating with his followers and the world.
- The professional arm of the sport that is the president’s favored pastime pulled the prestigious PGA Championship from the Trump-owned course in Bedminster, New Jersey. Holding the 2022 tournament there “would be detrimental to the PGA of America brand,” the group said. And New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, in the past a Trump booster, declined to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom from him. He cited the “tragic events of last week.”
- Major companies in the business world in which Trump made his name are cutting off campaign funds from lawmakers who supported his challenge to accepting the certified Electoral College votes electing Joe Biden, and the National Association of Manufacturers called for his ouster. The New York Times reported that Deutsche Bank, Trump’s primary lender for two decades, was no longer interested in doing business with him.
- The lawyers who helped lead Trump’s defense at his first impeachment trial aren’t expected to be in the Senate chamber this time. White House counsel Pat Cipollone won’t participate amid reports he has considered resigning, nor will constitutional attorney Jay Sekulow. Instead, Trump’s defense may be led by two controversial figures, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.
- The city where Trump was born and where he has plastered his name in gold on a 5th Avenue tower has decided to terminate its contracts with the Trump Organization to operate two ice-skating rinks and a city-owned golf course in the Bronx. The course will presumably no longer be known as the Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point.
Even the Central Park Carousel will now come under new management.
“The President incited a rebellion against the United States government that killed five people and threatened to derail the constitutional transfer of power,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, said in a statement. “The City of New York will not be associated with those unforgivable acts in any shape, way or form, and we are immediately taking steps to terminate all Trump Organization contracts.”
In response, Trump’s son Eric blamed “cancel culture” for the city’s action, and he dismissed the idea that his father was going to find his options more limited down the road. “He created the greatest political movement in American history,” the younger Trump told the AP, “and his opportunities are endless.”
The movement against Trump reflects the growing social activism among some institutions of American life that once fashioned themselves as apolitical. The #MeToo movement prompted the entertainment industry, corporations, universities and others to address the issue of workplace sexual harassment. After George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis last year, major U.S. companies pledged to address racial inequality.
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In some cases, employees and customers have pressured their employers, the businesses they frequent and the sports teams they support to speak out, although of course taking a stand also carries the risk of angering those with a different point of view.
That said, the most deadly assault on the Capitol since the War of 1812, one fueled by the president’s inflammatory rhetoric, didn’t seem like a close call to many.
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The Republicans who spoke during an impassioned 3½ hour debate on the House floor Wednesday blasted Democrats for hypocrisy and grandstanding, but only a handful argued that the president had done nothing wrong. They argued instead that impeachment was too harsh a penalty and too divisive a step to take, especially given Trump’s few remaining days in the White House.
“The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California said, striking words from one of Trump’s most loyal allies. But he said impeaching him “in such a short timeframe” would be “a mistake.” He voted against it.
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A year ago, at Trump’s first impeachment, not a single House Republican voted in favor of the Articles of Impeachment against the president. This time, the 232-197 vote was the most bipartisan of any presidential impeachment in history, with 10 Republicans joining Democrats in impeaching Trump for “incitement of insurrection.” They included Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, No. 3 in the House GOP leadership.
In another contrast from last time, the outcome in the Senate is uncertain. Then, only one Republican, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, voted to convict Trump on an Article of Impeachment. This time, several GOP senators say they are open to voting to convict him. Even Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday he hadn’t made a final decision – a potentially ominous sign for Trump.
“I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” McConnell said.
During the final chapter of his presidency, Trump has found his standing undercut not by his enemies but by his own actions. Since Election Day, he has refused to acknowledge that he lost a fair election, arguing without evidence that it was rigged against him. That grievance and his escalating rhetoric about it – that the country itself was at stake, not just his pride – rallied thousands of his supporters who then went on a marauding spree through the halls of the Capitol.
“If Trump had merely conceded the election in November, and even maintained his other antics, he would’ve left office with a so-so approval rating, a stranglehold on the GOP, control of 2024, and all the post-presidency perks,” Rory Cooper, a former top Republican congressional aide, said on Twitter, the platform where Trump can no longer join the conversation. “Instead, this.”