Acquitted again, Donald Trump expected to reemerge onto national political scene

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Trump Is Infuriated With Impeachment Defense Lawyers.Former President Donald Trump is furious with the performance given by his lawyers.Bruce Castor Jr. and David Schoen, on the first day of his second impeachment trial.He was particularly frustrated by Castor’s revelation that the Democrats’ case was so strong that it affected the order of his own presentation.The former president, who is on trial for “incitement of insurrection,” is said to havebeen more pleased with Schoen's argument.Republican Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana stated the presentation led him to vote "yes" on whether the Senate has jurisdiction though Trump is out of office.It was disorganized, random — they talked about many things, but they didn’t talk about the issue at hand, Senator Bill Cassidy, via statement

New ABC poll shows more than half of Americans believe he should have been convicted

Fresh from an acquittal after his historic second Senate impeachment trial, Donald Trump gave an indication of what’s expected from the former Republican president in his initial comments Saturday.

“Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun. In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people,” he said.

But after being barred from Twitter, the former president lacks the social media bullhorn that fueled his political rise. And he’s confronting a Republican Party divided over the legacy of his jarring final days in office, culminating in the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol. Searing video images of the day played on loop during his impeachment trial.

A new ABC News/Ipsos poll shows more than half of Americans (58%) believe Trump should have been convicted. Last year, after Trump was acquitted in his first Senate impeachment trial, Americans were evenly split on the outcome, with 49% approving of the Senate’s judgment and 47% disapproving, according to a Monmouth University poll.

The latest poll was conducted Feb. 13-14, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 547 adults, and has a margin of sampling error of 4.8 points. Partisan divisions were 31-26-36%, Democrats-Republicans-independents.

ExploreDonald Trump's second impeachment: Full coverage

In late 2019, the Democrat-led U.S. House impeached Trump on two charges: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The GOP-led Senate acquitted Trump on both charges in February 2020. Prior to Trump, only Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton had been impeached. Both were also acquitted by the Senate.

The latest impeachment charge — authored by U.S. Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Ted Lieu of California — alleged Trump incited the violence that led to a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. One Capitol Police officer, Brian David Sicknick, died from injuries suffered in the riot. One protester — Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt, 35, who was a 14-year U.S. Air Force veteran — was shot to death during the protest.

ExploreHere is what Donald Trump said before the Capitol riot

The Senate voted 57 guilty and 43 not guilty, with Trump acquitted because two-thirds didn’t find him guilty. Seven Republicans joined with Democrats to convict the former president, but that still fell short of the 67 votes needed to convict.

The seven Republicans, who make up 14% of the GOP conference in the Senate, mirror the 14% of Republicans nationwide who believe Trump should have been convicted and barred from holding future office in the poll, which was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel.

Trump remains popular among the GOP base, but many Republicans in Washington have cooled to him. Never before have so many members of a president’s party — seven GOP senators, in his case — voted for his removal in a Senate trial.

ExploreSchumer: Democrats might invoke 14th Amendment to bar Trump

“It is a sad commentary on our times that one political party in America is given a free pass to denigrate the rule of law, defame law enforcement, cheer mobs, excuse rioters, and transform justice into a tool of political vengeance, and persecute, blacklist, cancel and suppress all people and viewpoints with whom or which they disagree,” Trump said after the Senate vote was taken. “I always have, and always will, be a champion for the unwavering rule of law, the heroes of law enforcement, and the right of Americans to peacefully and honorably debate the issues of the day without malice and without hate.

“This has been yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country. No president has ever gone through anything like it, and it continues because our opponents cannot forget the almost 75 million people, the highest number ever for a sitting president, who voted for us just a few short months ago.”

Undeterred, friends and allies expect Trump to resume friendly media interviews after weeks of silence. He has met with political aides to discuss efforts to help Republicans try to take control of the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections. He remains fixated on exacting revenge on Republicans who supported his impeachment or resisted his efforts to overturn the results of the November election won by Democrat Joe Biden.

ExploreREAD: Donald Trump's full statement after historic second acquittal

“I imagine you’ll probably be hearing a lot more from him in the coming days,” senior adviser Jason Miller said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, who spoke with Trump on Saturday night, acknowledged Trump is “mad at some folks” but also “ready to move on and rebuild the Republican Party” and “excited about 2022.”

In their conversations, Graham has stressed to Trump, who has threatened to start his own party to punish disloyal Republicans, that the GOP needs him to win. “I said, ‘Mr. President, this MAGA movement needs to continue. We need to unite the party. Trump-plus is the way back in 2022,’” Graham, R-South Carolina, told “Fox News Sunday.”

“My goal is to win in 2022 to stop the most radical agenda I’ve seen coming out of the Democratic presidency of Joe Biden. We can’t do that without Donald Trump, so he’s ready to hit the trail ,and I’m ready to work with him,” Graham said.

Graham said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who voted to acquit but then delivered a scalding denunciation of Trump, “got a load off a chest, obviously.” Graham said later in the interview: “If you want to get something off your chest, fine, but I’m into winning.”

But Trump is still facing multiple ongoing criminal investigations. In Georgia, the Fulton County district attorney has opened a criminal investigation into “attempts to influence” the election, including Trump’s call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger demanding that the official find enough votes to overturn Biden’s victory.

In New York, Attorney General Letitia James is investigating whether Trump and his company improperly inflated the value of his assets on annual financial statements in order to secure loans and obtain tax benefits. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. continues his own investigation, which has included grand jury testimony.

“He didn’t get away with anything — yet,” McConnell, R-Kentucky, said after the vote. “We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one.”

McConnell voted to acquit Trump on the grounds the trial was unconstitutional because he is no longer in office but insisted, “There’s no question — none — that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.”

That sharp rebuke from his once-loyal defender underscores how dramatically Trump’s stock has fallen in Washington since his first impeachment trial just over a year ago. But the desire to be rid of Trump is not shared across the country, where Republicans who have dared to admonish him have faced swift rebuke.

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, was forced to defend her third-in-line leadership position after she voted in favor of impeachment. On Saturday, Louisiana’s Republican Party quickly censured Sen. Bill Cassidy, one of the seven Republican senators who voted for Trump’s conviction.

In an interview Sunday with ABC’s “This Week,” Cassidy seemed at peace with his decision.

“I think his force wanes,” he said of Trump. “The Republican Party is more than just one person. The Republican Party is about ideas.”

But how long Trump retains his grip remains an open question, especially with a slew of likely 2024 candidates now trying to take the mantle.

Some, including Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, are advocating a clean break from Trump, who ended his presidency with a record low 34% approval rating according to Gallup polling. Others have stressed the need to keep his voters engaged, perhaps with candidates who trumpet the policies Trump championed but with a less caustic style that might win back suburban voters.

In a sign of his enduring power, the Republican National Committee and other groups spent the trial sending fundraising appeals urging their followers to “Stand with Trump” and “SAVE President Trump’s Legacy,” in the words of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“Oh, time is going to take care of that some way or another,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told reporters Saturday. “But remember, in order to be a leader you got to have followers. So we’re gonna find out, whoever leads. But everybody’s going to be involved. We’re a big tent.”

While the Senate failed to bar Trump from running again for office, many believe he has done too much damage to be a credible candidate in 2024.

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who is retiring, said Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the election had “very badly damaged his reputation,” eclipsing his accomplishments in office.

“Instead,” Toomey said, “he’ll be remembered throughout history as the president who resorted to nonlegal steps to try to hold on to power.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.