Political science professors comment on President’s acquittal

Sebastian Herr

President Donald Trump became the third president in United States history to be impeached and acquitted this past February. However, a few questions remain about what this impeachment process says, how it could have gone differently, and what will happen next. 

One of the most notable arguments during the Senate trail put forth by Alan Dershowitz as part of Trump’s defense team was, “If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.” The impeachment process plays out differently than a judicial one and it is difficult to say how Dershowitz’s statement was interpreted. Some of Pacific University’s political science experts, Dr. Jim Moore and Dr. Jeff Seward, shared their take of the events. 

“Given the variety of opinions of why people voted no. I don’t think that that validates any particular argument that was made,” said Seward. Similarly, Moore finds flaws in Dershowitz’s argument.

“Since none of the Senators had to explain why they voted as they did, it is not clear at all if Dershowitz’s argument carried any weight.,” Moore said. “It also does not help Dershowitz’s argument that he argued the exact opposite in Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trial.”

Despite the similarities between former President Richard Nixon and President Trump, Nixon resigned before the House Representatives voted on articles of impeachment due to lack of political support with his own party. It was obvious from the beginning this time around that the Republican controlled Senate would not vote to convict Trump. However, it begs the question—would things have gone differently for Trump without such support?

“Trump has strong partisan support,” said Moore. “Without it, I think the trial would have gone forward in any case. Nixon was a political animal who could count votes. Trump is much more focused on what he thinks is right or wrong rather than on what support he has for his views.”

Seward had a similar feeling, saying, “I think he might have just toughed it out because his party had 53 senate seats; you had to convince 20 Republican senators to vote against him.”

After this ordeal, Trump’s actions and statements continue to be decried by many, but it is unlikely he will be impeached again even if he is elected for a second term, according to Moore. “If the same balance of power exists, it will depend on whether the president does something that is unequivocally against the Constitution,” explained Moore. He continues, “Aside from him refusing to leave the presidency at the end of his term, it is hard to imagine any action of his that would unite the two parties to remove him from office.”