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Trump isolated and silent before second impeachment

With his place in history being rewritten, President Donald Trump received the news of a second impeachment proceeding against him virtually alone and in silence.

For more than four years, Trump has dominated the national discourse like no other president before him. Yet when his legacy was set in stone, he was surprisingly on the sidelines.

Trump’s situation is unmatched as he is the only president to be accused twice of a crime or serious misconduct, a new end to a presidential term defined by increasing division in the country, his failures during the worst pandemic in a century and his refusal to accept defeat at the polls.

Trump stayed out of public view in a practically empty White House while impeachment proceedings took place in a heavily guarded Capitol. There, the damage from last week’s riots provided a visible reminder of the insurrection the president is accused of inciting.

Abandoned by some members of his own party, Trump couldn’t help but watch the story unfold on television.

The suspension of his Twitter account deprived Trump of his most powerful means of keeping Republicans aligned, creating a sense that Trump has lost his fangs and, for the first time, control of his adoptive party.

He was finally heard from hours after the vote, in a video in which he condemned the insurrection in the Capitol and warned his supporters not to participate in new acts of violence.

It was a message that was absent a week ago, when protesters marching on behalf of Trump arrived at the headquarters of Congress to try to avoid the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

“I want to be very clear. I strongly condemn the violence we saw last week, ”Trump declared. He added that none of his “true” supporters “could ever condone the use of political violence.”

But that message, partially motivated to avoid legal action for inciting the riots, was contradictory to what Trump had said throughout his tenure, including last week, when he urged supporters to “fight” for him. Trump did not say a word about the impeachment in the video, although he did complain about the vetoes against him on social media.

With just one week left in office, there were no belligerent messages from the White House opposing the proceedings at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, nor was there an organized legal response.

Some Republican lawmakers defended the president during the impeachment debate in the House of Representatives, but at the end of the session, 10 Republicans joined Democrats in voting for impeachment.

It was a stark contrast to the first impeachment proceedings against Trump.

The December 2019 vote, in which Trump became only the third president in history to go to impeachment, remained in partisan blocs. The charges at that time were that he had used the authority of his position to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rival and current president-elect, Joe Biden.