Opinion: Trump’s impeachment trial begins today and the House of Representatives’ argument is strong


Ayaana Pradhan

Former president Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial starts today, and the House of Representatives has a strong case against him.

From possibly inciting an insurrection on the Capitol to being impeached, what has Donald Trump not done? The Capitol insurrection that took place on Jan. 6 left the United States and the world in shock. The House of Representatives has blamed Trump for inciting the insurrection, and so have impeached the former president a second time. This time, the house wants to penalize Trump for the chaos he caused and when Trump is impeached he will lose his privileges of being a former president, like protection and pension. The House wrote in their 80-page brief that “President Trump endangered the very constitutional system that protects all other rights, including freedom of expression.” I agree with their statement since the riot in the Capitol was Trump’s fault, and nothing could change that since the proof is on the internet, from the tweets to the speeches he made. He misused his rights and incited a riot that will go down in history. 

Five days before the insurrection occurred, Trump posted on Twitter, “The BIG Protest Rally in Washington, D.C., will take place at 11.00 A.M. on January 6th. Locational details to follow. StopTheSteal!” As we know, the Capitol riot took place on Jan. 6. Hundreds of Trump supporters rushed to the capitol building holding pro-Trump flags, confederate flags, and American flags on that day. The supporters broke through the Capitol police force and knocked down the doors to the building. They raided the building, forcing the House of Representatives to lock themselves in a secure room for their own safety. The “protest” that Trump tweeted about was not a peaceful protest. Rather, it was a violent attack on America’s electoral process. 

In addition to Trump’s Twitter post, a speech that Trump held the same day only served to continue to agitate the already-angry crowd, becoming the final push in causing the riot. In Trump’s speech, he talked about how he considered the election votes to be incorrect and that Democrats, specifically then-incumbent Joe Biden, did not really win. This argument riled up the crowd, which may have been a direct factor that led to the riot. 

“So we’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. I love Pennsylvania Avenue. And we’re going to the Capitol, and we’re going to try and give…[it our all for the country],” Trump mentioned in his speech. If that is not enough of a reason to show that Trump inexplicably caused the riot, I do not know what is. The House of Representatives’ argument is clear, and although others may argue that Trump was simply using his constitutional right to freedom of speech, the freedom of speech in America does entail consequences resulting from what people say depending on the context.  

Trump is a person who has influence over the people, and as such a powerful person he must realize the weight of his words. I do not think that Trump’s legal team should use the argument of The First Amendment to defend Trump, because I do not believe the U.S. Constitution was intended to be used like this. Freedom of speech was meant to allow citizens to speak their mind without the fear of being persecuted. Judges still argue on the interpretation of The First Amendment that grants freedom of speech, but I personally believe that words should be said with caution. You cannot expect to insult someone and excuse yourself with the freedom of speech when confronted about it because that is just misusing your rights. Our rights were created in hopes of America not being a dictatorship to the people. Since we are fortunate enough to have such rights, we cannot misuse them. There is a limit to everything, and even the freedom of speech has its own limits.

The House of Representatives’ argument is strong. Even though Trump has left office, the impeachment trials will be held. Trump prepared a new defense team after his old team left. The current argument for his defense is strong where it does not make sense to impeach a president who has left office. The Constitution did not specify that a president who has left office is allowed to be impeached, but this is the first time an incident like this is happening. This is the first time a president has been impeached twice- and the second impeachment of Trump occurred only one week before his presidency was over. So, I think that even if the Constitution did not state that a president who has left office can be impeached, Trump’s impeachment could and should happen because of the great number of evidence against him.