President Donald Trump on the 13th of February was found to be not guilty and acquitted from his second impeachment trial, on the matter of whether he had incited the Capitol riot or not. If he had been convicted, President Trump would have been banned from running for President again in 2024, and stripped of his lifelong title of President.
From a legal perspective it was always going to be hard to convict President Trump as inciting violence (hate speech) is often hard to prove, and many of President Trump’s tweets and other quotes could be interpreted as ambiguous and indirect. A 2/3rd vote majority in the Senate required for conviction would have always been hard to come by, due to just under half of the House consisting of Republican representatives. It was unlikely that enough GOP Senators would decide to tarnish their own Party with the implications of an impeached and convicted President.
However, the important question is how does this acquittal reflect on President Biden’s fledgling administration, It’s foreign policy, and the USA’s credibility on the world stage?
Firstly, some would argue that the Biden Administration has already gotten off on the wrong foot, with certain decisions that have already called to question the administration’s sense of justice. Such as the denial of justice to Harry Dunn, who was killed by the dangerous driving of Anne Sacoolas, who will not be extradited to the UK to face justice. Biden’s Administration has confirmed this is a ‘final’ decision. A spokesman for the Foreign Office even went as far as to say the US refusal was a ‘denial of justice’. This, some would argue has already shown that the Biden Administration does not care much for justice, or at least only cares if it politically affects them.
Secondly, President Trump’s acquittal could have a knock-on effect for the confidence, reputation, and credibility of the current administration under President Biden. This is particularly important currently due to multiple situations worldwide, such as the Russian protests, the Myanmar military coup and the political turmoil in Haiti- all issues which are undoubtedly undermining global faith in democracy.
Why exactly this matters to the Biden Administration comes down to the perception of justice. As a Democrat, President Biden was pro-impeachment when it came to President Trump, as this has now fallen through for the Democrats some could argue this makes President Biden look soft when it comes to justice. Although in many ways this has already been confirmed with the denial of justice for Harry Dunn.
Moreover, how does this lack of confidence affect the Biden Administration’s foreign policy?
In many ways it boils down to support, the more confidence in the administration, the more likely the USA’s allies are to backing the country in its foreign policy objectives. This means confidence is very important if the USA wants to push forward interventionalist policies like the Iraq War whereby allies are needed to help justify the action, although this does not always work out.
Ultimately, although international confidence in the new administration is good for foreign policy it is not essential nor is it too late to build up confidence either. The Biden Administration still has most of its four-year term left, with it only being a month in, so President Biden has plenty of time to instil confidence in his allies, even without the impeachment of President Trump.
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