Mason students react to Trump’s second impeachment trial and eventual acquittal following Jan. 6 Capitol riot


The Senate officially acquitted former President Donald Trump for the second time on Feb. 13. He faced impeachment for encouraging thousands of his followers to walk to the Capitol Hill while a joint session of Congress was taking place to protest the outcome of the 2020 presidential race, in which Joe Biden was officially declared the winner. 

Rather than peacefully protesting, his followers chose to breach the Capitol building, resulting in five deaths and seven injuries.

“History will rightly remember today’s violence at the Capitol, incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation,” former President Barack Obama said in a statement in response to the Capitol riot.

 Junior Marketing major Julia Soczynski described the riot as “shameful.”

 “It’s hard to see people who care about the country willingly destroy it. No matter what the political party is,” Soczynski said. “I think internationally it makes people wonder what’s wrong with Americans for wanting to cause destruction to the capital. It’s sad. It reflects poorly on the country and its current state.”

 Socynksi explained her belief that Trump played a role in inciting the mob of extremists that breached Capitol Hill.

 “Many times in speeches he talks about how the Proud Boys have him. The night of the breach he told these groups to go home and he loves them,” Socynski said. “I would like to see accountability for the former president, for the storming of the capital, not condemning white supremacy and enabling acts of hate.”

 She explained that she was not surprised when news outlets reported that Trump was acquitted.

 “I think that a lot of the GOP party leaders are still concerned about political backlash regarding their specific standpoints on Trump. Though more Republicans said Trump’s actions were wrong, they did not vote that way. I think if the vote was anonymous, Trump most likely would have been impeached,” Socynski said.

 Senior English major Jennifer Walsh shared that she had an almost “deja-vu” feeling on Jan. 6. 

 Walsh described the people who participated in the riot as “domestic terrorists” and believes that Trump played a role in encouraging the takeover of the Capitol.

I am angered that Trump was acquitted, but not too surprised. There was no justice. The system has, yet again, failed,” Walsh said.

 “Trump did play a major role. He was the leader of the country, so naturally, some responsibility falls on him,” Walsh said. “More than that, however, he has promoted a narrative of hate throughout the last four years. He refused to condemn white supremacists, which is despicable and disgusting.”

 Walsh said that Trump should have been found guilty because the evidence was there.

 “I think people are seeing who is doing what. They see who voted in what way. They see that their representatives voted in the wrong direction by not holding Trump accountable. I think the next state elections will show this,” Walsh said. “[Sen. Ted] Cruz’s recent vacation proves what his vote showed: He does not care about the people. Neither do many other politicians.”

Although bipartisanship in Congress is still a long road ahead, Walsh believes it can be achieved. 

“I think once certain people are out of office, bipartisanship can be achieved,” Walsh said. “We would need a change in the system. I think term limits would help this.”