Political experts weigh in on acquittal of former President Trump in 2nd impeachment trial

5-day trial focused on events before, during and after Jan. 6 riot at US Capitol

News4Jax spoke with a panel of political experts about the acquittal on This Week in Jacksonville this morning. News4Jax Reporter Jennifer Ready breaks down how they believe the nation moves forward.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Former President Donald Trump was acquitted this weekend in his second impeachment trial.

The five-day trial focused on the events before, during and after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

“It seems like the last four years, everything we’ve been talking about is historic with Donald Trump, and the last week was no different,” said Dr. Michael Binder, director of the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Laboratory. “I think the speed at which the trial worked its way through the process, five days of hearing and a quick vote, most folks expected the outcome that we were going to get, and we got it.”

Binder joined News4Jax anchor Kent Justice and several other political experts on Sunday’s edition of “This Week in Jacksonville” to discuss the conclusion of the trial.

“A lot of people were looking for legal niceties and legal standards,” explained Dr. Matthew Corrigan, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Jacksonville University. “This is really a political act and a political judgment, and at the end of the day, it really came out a result of a political act in terms of the partisan breakdown.”

U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Florida, said the riot was “horrific,” but explained his decision to vote against impeachment in the House.

“I just think it’s bad for the country. It’s pouring fuel on the fire of divisiveness. It’s pouring salt on the wound of so many of President Trump’s supporters,” Waltz said. “He supported peaceful transfer of power, he denounced what happened, he said no follower of his could have ever attacked our Capitol in that way, but yet here we are a month later pouring fuel on the fire of divisiveness. So I just don’t think it’s good for the country.”

In response to Waltz’s remarks, state Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, had a different view.

“I think the congressman is wearing blinders on top of his rose-colored glasses because, obviously, he didn’t see what we all saw,” Gibson said. “What he failed to mention was people died, people died as a result of what happened at the Capitol, and certainly there was not a peaceful transition.”

When asked where the nation goes from here, Corrigan said one major takeaway is that political violence is not the answer.

“I think it was important to go through this. Getting the 67 votes was probably never going to happen, but you need to put a historical marker down that this wasn’t acceptable and the president’s conduct wasn’t acceptable,” Corrigan said. “We’re still talking about Andrew Johnson hundreds of years later because he got impeached. This will follow the former President through history.”

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