20210118 US President Donald Trump
Donald Trump Image Credit: AFP

Since Tuesday, US senators have been sitting as a jury in the impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump. The prosecution team has put together detailed video and voice recordings that flesh out their case the former president incited insurrection by his rejection of last November’s election and encouraging a mob to storm the US Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6.

Certainly, the footage was dramatic and outlined the terror wrought by those who rampaged through the buildings — where the current impeachment trial is taking place — leading to the deaths of five people, the arrests of scores and criminal investigations into dozens more. The key question remains — as was the same when senators last tried Trump a year ago — whether there is enough support to garner his conviction. Finding 67 senators to convict Trump is a high bar indeed.

Whatever the eventual outcome of this trial, the reality is that most Americans have already made up their mind of the relative guilt or innocence of the former president. They have already had an opportunity to express that opinion through the ballot box, and more than five million more decided against Trump than voted for him. That is a result, regardless of the former president’s opinions otherwise, that is not in doubt.

The current impeachment proceedings serve to highlight Trump’s actions but will do little to change the opinions or votes of Americans now. What is important, however, is that Americans come together to heal the deep divisions of their nation. It matters not whether Trump is guilty or innocent of the charges laid out in the Senate — he has left the national stage and faces other legal and financial challenges in the months ahead.

This debate comes at a time when the American economy is reeling from the effects of coronavirus, where clear and decisive action is needed to fight Covid-19 and to make sure that the health services across the US are study and resilient, and that its vaccination programme is effective. Right now, coronavirus needs to be the focus for politicians from all sides.

The presidency of Joe Biden is still in its infancy. There is much difficult work ahead, many challenges to meet and obstacles to overcome. The bar for impeachment was set high by the framers of the US Constitution. Rehashing the events in and around Jan. 6 won’t change that, nor will it change the opinions of Americans. It’s better to look forward now.