TAMPA, Fla. — Former President Donald Trump was acquitted by the US Senate on Saturday on an article of impeachment that he incited the deadly U.S. Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6.
Florida's two Republican senators both voted to acquit the former president, while making it known they do not condone the violence at the U.S. Capitol.
But as is the case with just about any political decision, one party is happy with the outcome, and the other is outraged. That case holds true among political leaders in Florida.
“It’ll be extremely upsetting and disappointing to people who really felt strongly that he should be convicted, but for others who thought it was unconstitutional, or just thought that it wasn’t his direct message that caused that riot, they will be happy,” said ABC Action News Political Analyst Dr. Susan MacManus.
Following the acquittal of the former president, Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott released a statement calling the attack on the U.S. Capitol "horrific":
"The attack on the Capitol we all witnessed on January 6 was horrific and the lawless thugs who are responsible for the disgusting violence we saw do not represent America. They should all be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. However, this week, instead of addressing the serious issues facing our nation, Democrats in Congress put our work for the American people on hold and pushed forward with an unconstitutional impeachment trial."
You can read Senator Rick Scott's full statement here.
Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio echoed those sentiments, calling the riots on the Capitol "unpatriotic," and "un-American," but arguing that "the Senate does not have the Constitutional power to convict a former official":
"The lead House Manager argued today that this trial isn’t about Donald Trump. That it was about our country. And that those who refuse to vote to convict are condoning the actions of a violent mob and failing to defend the honor of our Capitol and the people who work here.
This is a ridiculous and insulting argument.
Impeachment is not a way of sending a message or taking symbolic action. Impeachment exists for one principal reason: to remove from office an office holder guilty of wrongdoing."
You can read Senator Marco Rubio's full statement here.
“For Republicans, they’re convinced from the get go, and this has been voted on several times, that it wasn’t constitutional to pursue somebody who’s already a private citizen,” said Dr. Susan MacManus.
But Democrats are convinced otherwise.
“There’s a lot of Democrats who are still very, very angry, and they’re going to continue to pursue the questions that they felt were unanswered,” said Dr. MacManus.
The Florida Democratic Party released a statement Saturday saying senators Rubio and Scott voted to "condone an insurrectionist attack on our government":
“Today, 43 Republican Senators including Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott declared open season on our democracy by voting to condone an insurrectionist attack on our government, an attack unquestionably incited by Donald Trump. In the face of clear, unblinking evidence of the attack on our Capitol that we all witnessed with our own eyes on January 6th, Rubio and Scott pledged loyalty to Trump above their duty to our country and the Constitutional oath they swore to uphold before God."
And on Twitter, U.S. Representative Kathy Castor called the GOP senators who voted to acquit the former president "cowards":
Trump betrayed America, his oath and the U.S. Constitution.— US Rep Kathy Castor (@USRepKCastor) February 13, 2021
He incited a violent, racist mob to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power.
He threatened his own Vice Pres and ignored pleas to help end the attack.
Seven people died, and over 130 police officers were injured. https://t.co/3lRSVNlEmW
“Two views of the political world, drastically different,” said Dr. MacManus.
Yet, the average American back home is more hopeful now that Congress can work together on things that impact their constituents directly.
“The image of congress right now is a 'do nothing congress,' do nothing but fight with each other, meanwhile do nothing to get help to people in need,” said Dr. MacManus.
Work that's been put on pause by the impeachment trial.
“A lot of people are saying ‘thank goodness this is over with,’ and maybe they’re disappointed with the verdict, but they’re most, most in need and urgent for Congress to do something that’s bipartisan that gets money to people who are desperately in need,” said Dr. MacManus.
While the impeachment trial is over, this is likely not the last we'll hear of it.
Several political leaders on both sides of the aisle have made it known they do not want to see the former president run for office again, so we could still see efforts made through the 14th amendment to bar him from running in the future.