February 13, 2021

Wyden Statement on Trump Acquittal

“Republicans … have weakened the guardrails that our founders intended to protect American democracy from people like [Trump]”

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today released the following statement after the U.S. Senate voted to acquit Donald Trump:

“Senators swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Today 43 Republican senators have chosen Donald Trump over the Constitution, and in so doing they have betrayed their oath. There can be no doubting the evidence that Donald Trump inspired, fomented and ultimately called for the assault on the Capitol. Once it was happening, he stalled rather than defending the seat of American democracy. The majority of Republican Senators ratified this wrongful behavior by a president of the United States and set a precedent that others could do so as well.

“This acquittal gives room for Donald Trump and others to continue to tell the Big Lie about the 2020 election. The falsehoods underpinning the Big Lie are already becoming the pretext for new Republican efforts to restrict voting rights in Georgia and other states across the country. This is shameful, and Americans need to do everything possible to stop it.

“The Trump defense was misleading, confused and smarmy – never a good faith attempt to grapple with the facts of the case. There are still serious unanswered questions about what Trump was doing while the mob was ransacking the Capitol and hunting for his vice president, the speaker and other lawmakers. Had Trump interceded before or during the attack, lives could have been saved, untold trauma prevented, and the desecration of the building avoided. He did not.

“It was totally inappropriate for the defense to include what were essentially slick Trump campaign videos as evidence in an impeachment trial. My head spun when I heard the defense team lecture about the need for unity after they’d suggested that holding Trump accountable could lead to further violence or even civil war. Holding disgraced politicians accountable for their abuse of power is not divisive. It’s the abuse of power itself that’s divisive.

“The House managers’ presentation was staggeringly powerful. Senators knew the attack was a disaster and a tragedy, but the House managers made clear how much worse it could have been. The heroism of so many law enforcement officers made all the difference, but it came at a terrible cost. Donald Trump may never accept it, but he bears responsibility for the suffering of the injured and the suffering of three families of police officers mourning the ultimate loss.

“Sadly, Republicans have demonstrated that they will not sanction a president of their party for inciting violence to hold power. There’s no denying that convicting a member of one’s own party would be difficult, but what matters more than narrow political interests is the fact that Donald Trump will continue to pose a grave danger to our democracy. Republicans have left the door open for Trump to take power again, and they have weakened the guardrails that our founders intended to protect American democracy from people like him.”