Donald Trump has saved his second ‘impeachment’. At 10:00 pm on the Iberian Peninsula (4:00 pm in Washington) the United States Senate voted in favor of declaring the former president guilty of “incitement to insurrection” in the assault on the Capitol on January 6, which caused five deaths, which would have implied his “disqualification from the exercise of any position of representation, honor, trust or remuneration of and by the United States.” But he did so by 57 votes in favor, 10 less than necessary to convict him.

But the ‘impeachment’, which is how the phase that ended this Saturday is known, has also revealed the tremendous division within the Republican Party. The fact that seven of his fifty senators voted to find the president guilty is unprecedented in American history. In the three impeachments held to date – Andrew Johnson’s in 1868, Bill Clinton’s in 1999, and Trump’s first in 2020 – not as many senators from the President’s party voted to convict him. So even if the process has not gone ahead, it has been by far the most ‘bipartisan’ impeachment – if that word can be used – ever held. No one expected seven Republicans to back the motion. At most, three or four were expected to vote against Trump.

The anti-Trump ‘coalition’ is also heterogeneous. In it is a deeply conservative senator – Ben Sasse of Nebraska – who has always defied Trump, to the point of having been reprimanded twice by his party, and who is fully running for president in 2024. There are four centrists – the former 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Bill Cassidy, and Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski – whose vote has not surprised. And two others, Pat Toomey and Richard Burr, are conservatives retiring from the Senate in 2022, so he more or less doesn’t care what his base thinks of him.

Because that is the question: the Republican base is totally for Trump, even though the former president has caused a gigantic division in the party. All the senators who have voted in favor of the ‘impeachment’, already know that the next time they have to stand for reelection they will have tough primaries against a Trump candidate. It is not only that the base of the party is with the former president; it is that both he and his environment – especially his children – have declared that they are going to try to defeat the legislators who have voted “guilty”. Because, as in a real trial, that is how the Senate voted yesterday: “innocent” or “guilty.”

The clearest example of that ambivalence was that of the leader of the Senate Republicans, Mitch McConnell. Even though he voted in favor of Trump’s declaration of innocence, McConnell was dispatched, at the end of the session, with a speech in which he put the former president as a sucker, whom he accused of being “responsible since the moral and practical point of view “of what he described as an” act of terrorism. ” The senator, who during the Trump presidency was the ‘transmission belt’ of the head of state and government in the Senate, said that the assailants in Congress carried out their action “because they had been fed with falsehoods by the most powerful man of the Earth “, in a clear reference to Trump. Not only that: McConnell declared that Trump could be subject to legal action for his criminal responsibility in the events of that day.

However, in an example of political juggling, McConnell justified his vote against the guilt of the former president by claiming that the key to ‘impeachment’ is removed from office and, therefore, as a person who does not occupy any position public, Trump cannot be subjected to that procedure. In fact, in the past, the United States Congress conducted an ‘impeachment’ against a former defense secretary, making McConnell’s argument more like a political maneuver than a legal argument. The Republican division had been revealed when, a few hours before the vote, the Senate was paralyzed by the decision to call witnesses.

It was an unexpected vote, triggered in good measure by Republican Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, who has revealed to the CNN television network that, while the attack on January 6 was taking place, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, He asked Trump by phone to appeal to his followers so that they abandon their violent attack on the Legislature and the head of state and government refused. Finally, given the possibility that, with the witnesses, the impeachment would last weeks, both parties agreed not to carry out that decision.