The talking point that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is using about President Donald Trump’s impeachment acquittal sounds more like a statement of denial than something clever about the merits of the trial process.
In a Saturday interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in Germany, Pelosi basically said that the president wasn’t really acquitted because the Senate didn’t call for further witnesses and documents during the trial.
“What about, though, the fact that the president seems liberated, and this is about democratic politics so I’m not asking you to criticize here, but he was acquitted, his poll ratings are high—” Amanpour said before she was interrupted by Pelosi.
After stammering over Amanpour’s question, Pelosi responded, “You can’t have an acquittal unless you have a trial, and you can’t have a trial unless you have witnesses and documents.
“So he can say he’s acquitted, and the headlines can say ‘acquitted,’ but he’s impeached forever, branded with that, and not vindicated,” the speaker continued, “and even the senators were saying, ‘Yes, it wasn’t right,’ but they didn’t have the courage to act upon that.”
Pelosi’s comments echo similar remarks she made before the conclusion of the Senate trial during one of her weekly press briefings when she also said that a trial requires witnesses and documents in order for a proper acquittal of the accused to be possible.
The question of whether or not to call extra witnesses became one of the more contentious points of the impeachment process in the Senate. Ultimately, only Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) decided to break ranks with their party and vote to prolong the trial by calling for more witness testimony.
In reality, despite the complaints and rhetorical swipes currently to be made about the process, the Senate did in fact hold an impeachment trial of President Trump and did in fact acquit him.
During that process, the findings collected by the House impeachment probe was entered into evidence as part of that trial, per the rules of the process. A majority of the chamber decided that they didn’t need further witness testimony or document subpoenas in order to make that decision and when an insufficient number of senators voted to convict on both articles of impeachment, it was subsequently “ordered and adjudged that the said Donald John Trump be, and he is hereby, acquitted of the charges in said articles.”