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

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

Trump has flirted with the idea of running for the White House again in 2024

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The Senate voted 57-43 to convict Trump of inciting the January 6 assault on the US Capitol

WASHINTON

After the Senate acquitted Donald Trump in a historic second impeachment trial, America was weighing how long a shadow the former president will cast — over his party, and over the country.
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 far 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 was on full view.

One frequent Trump critic, Republican Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland, on Sunday predicted a “real battle for the soul of the Republican Party.” “This is not over,” he told, adding he would have voted to convict Trump.

‘Need to work with 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… I think our leadership will be different going forward,” he said.”

Several Republicans, even while voting to acquit Trump, expressed dismay over his role on January 6 and in the weeks before, as he stoked anger with false claims the November election was stolen from him.

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 to work with President Trump — we can’t do it without him.”

Despite Trump’s acquittal, Democrats insisted on Sunday they had achieved a moral and political victory by securing some Republican votes in the Senate trial while permanently tarring Trump’s name and clearing the way for President Joe Biden to quickly advance his agenda.

“We clearly won in the court of public opinion,” Representative Don Beyer said.

Meanwhile, 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.

Agencies

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