SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Bruce Mallard has studied politics for decades but when it comes to current events, i.e. the second impeachment of Donald Trump, he says the U.S. is in unchartered territory.
“We’ve only had four impeachments in all of United States history and Donald Trump has got half of them,” said Mallard who is a political science professor at Savannah State University.
He reminds us that impeachment means having the trial. And that members of the U.S. Senate are now the jurors who must decide the fate of the former president.
Mallard says in historical terms, it’s important to remember what happened at the Capitol on January 6.
“The police officer who was beaten to death with a fire extinguisher I don’t think we should ever lose sight of that and now we’re finding out that there were some severe physical injuries to police officers by the rioters in fact one man was blinded in one eye,” said Mallard. “So, we’re not talking about a demonstration, we’re not talking about freedom of speech anymore, we’re not talking about exercising your constitutional rights for assembly.”
Tuesday, it was decided by a small majority in the Senate that the trial was constitutional and would proceed. Mallard says now the issue for the Trump defense will certainly be whether the former president’s words incited the violence.
“The Constitution gives Trump the right to speak freely,” said Mallard. “You do have freedom of speech but you can’t yell fire in a crowded theatre because that could cause a riot in the theatre.”
Wednesday afternoon, the Impeachment trial managers say that Trump didn’t just yell “fire.” They compared Trump to the worst fire chief in the world who they say sent people to start the fire and then watched it spread on TV.
One question that continues to surface from the Trump defense is that the former president should not be tried now because he is out of office.
“The Constitution doesn’t specifically say it must be conducted before you leave office,” said Mallard.
“To use common sense, if somebody knocks on my door and says we have a warrant here, you embezzled a great deal of money from your employer. My defense can’t be I haven’t worked there in three weeks but that seems to be the defense
Mallard says that is one reason why trial managers say the so called January exception would allow someone to escape impeachment by leaving office.
Whatever the evidence, 17 republican senators would have to join democrats to convince Trump. Mallard says it already appears that is unlikely.
“I do think the people who brought these charges and the managers of the case hope for a conviction but I think they’re resigned to the fact that maybe we won’t have one,” said Mallard.
“I think democrats have said whether we can convict or not, we’ve got to send a message to future presidents that this can’t be allowed,” said Mallard.
Whatever the outcome, Mallard believes Trump’s place in history is marked forever.
“We’ve only had four impeachments in all of United States history and Donald Trump has got half of them,” said Mallard.