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Francis Wilkinson

After Trump’s Acquittal, It Will Only Get Worse for Republicans

Accepting the president’s corruption is one thing. Enabling the erosion of democracy is another.

Democracy in twilight.

Democracy in twilight.

Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images North America

The Senate trial of President Donald Trump is proving less Soviet than expected. Representative Adam Schiff of California, the House impeachment manager, last week presented a coherent, damning and often eloquent narrative of Trump’s guilt, backed by text messages, emails, letters and sworn witness testimony previously delivered to the House.

As my colleague Jonathan Bernstein points out, the weight of such facts can alter political gravity. Even Republicans who have made up their minds to acquit — which almost certainly describes the entire GOP caucus — have had to sit through the avalanche of evidence. Surely it weighs on at least a few consciences. Meanwhile, writes New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait, ignoring the facts carries risks of its own: “The impeachment trial is an exercise in displaying the Republican Party’s institutional culpability in Trump’s contempt for the rule of law. At some point, they will have to decide to damn the president or to damn themselves.”